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Radio station is target of arson attack

(FOPEA /IFEX) - On 26 November 2008, a fire that appears to have been set intentionally affected the facilities of Radio Uno radio station in the town of Joaquín V. González, in the southern part of Salta province, northwestern Argentina. The attack, which occurred at 2:00 a.m. (local time), forced the station off the air and resulted in damages to equipment totalling 20,000 pesos (approx. US$ 5,900), according to the station's owner, journalist Daniel Barboza. Barboza said the station would be ready to resume broadcasting on 1 December.

FOPEA is concerned about this serious incident, which constitutes yet another example of the difficulties faced by journalists in small towns, especially in provinces far from the capital and, in particular, in the northern part of the country.

The attack has frightened Barboza's family, who live on the property where the station is located. Barboza became aware of the fire when he heard a noise. He saw two people fleeing from the scene, but the flames had already covered a large part of the station's facilities. The attackers left two cans of gasoline outside the journalist's house and once the fire had subsided, other cans of gasoline were discovered inside the station.

Barboza told FOPEA that he thinks there are links between the fire and criticisms aired on his station against the owner of a local dance hall and another radio station in the same town.

Barboza publicly called for protection from Governor Juan Manuel Urtubey, the local mayor, Gerardo Orellana, and the chief of police, Humberto Argañaraz, and spoke about the "lack of a response" that he has received from authorities up to this point. "I am afraid, I am very frightened", he said.

The 50th Division chief of police, Juan Carlos García, confirmed to FOPEA that there is a police report on an alleged intentional fire, but he could not give any further details. The case was passed on to the Joaquín V. González investigations unit.

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