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Zimbabwean editor shot and seriously wounded in South Africa

(MISA/IFEX) - Abel Mutsakani, the editor of ZimOnline and former managing editor of the banned "Daily News", is reportedly battling for his life in a Johannesburg, South Africa hospital after he was shot and seriously injured by a gang of three assailants on 23 July 2007.

According to reports from ZimOnline ( http://www.zimonline.co.za/ ), which publishes from South Africa, the motive behind the savage attack on Mutsakani remains unclear. "He is in a serious but stable condition," said Abel Chapatarongo, Mutsakani's deputy at ZimOnline.

Mutsakani's wife Bianca told ZimOnline that the three assailants struck at around 9:00 p.m. (local time) on 23 July as he was parking his car at their house in western Johannesburg.

One of the assailants pulled a gun and fired at Mutsakani. The bullet went through his raised elbow and ricocheted into his chest. It ruptured his lung and remains lodged near his heart, according to a medical report.

The three assailants fled after the attack, but did not rob Mutsakani of his possessions, raising questions about the motive of the attack.

"Doctors are still assessing whether they could perform surgery to remove the bullet, but they have indicated that this was unlikely because the bullet is lodged in a very delicate position near the heart," said Chapatarongo.

Chapatarongo condemned the attack on Mutsakani as "an act of shameless cowardice."

The doctors were expected to perform surgery on 25 July on Mutsakani's left hand that had become semi-paralysed. No arrests have been made so far although Johannesburg police have opened an attempted murder docket on the case.

Mutsakani was the managing editor of Zimbabwe's best-selling daily newspaper, "The Daily News", when it was banned in September 2003.

Before joining "The Daily News", he was the managing editor of Zimbabwe's respected financial weekly, "The Financial Gazette".

After the closure of "The Daily News", Mutsakani moved to Johannesburg, where together with other Zimbabwean journalists he launched ZimOnline, an independent news service about Zimbabwe.

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