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Bolivian journalists injured in fire bomb attack on station

UPDATE: Bolivian journalist wounded in arson attack returns home after treatment (IPI, 14 December 2012)

(ANP/IFEX) – The owner of Radio Popular 95.1 FM and journalist, Fernando Vidal, and the station's operator, Karen Arce, suffered burns of various degrees after a fire bomb attack took place at the station at 10:30 a.m. on 29 October 2012. Four people are responsible for the incident that took place in Yacuiba, a city on the border with Argentina.

According to press reports, the attackers' intent was to interrupt an interview programme that Vidal was hosting about smuggling in the region.

This is the second attack against a media outlet in Yacuiba in the past four years. In 2008, a TV station was attacked with explosives, and while someone was detained, the case still has not been solved.

The Ministry of the Interior, in charge of internal security, issued a communiqué saying that it had ordered a rapid and in depth investigation of the incident to ascertain who was responsible and bring them in front of the judicial authorities.

Vidal is in intensive care due to the severity of the burns to his face, hands and body.

Vidal had been involved in political life in Yacuiba. A decade ago he was mayor and councillor for a population of over 100,000, but later went into broadcasting and hosts a live call-in show. Many of the callers speak about cases of corruption, and this has resulted in threats against the radio station.

The police said they had detained three people who are accused of participating in the attack on Radio Popular 95.1 FM and are working on clarifying the details and motives for the attack.

In La Paz, a member of the opposition said that Vidal had made allegations of corruption, and reported the transfer of a private sector power company to the state, and cases related to smuggling.

What other IFEX members are saying

Bolivian radio journalist set on fire during live broadcast (International Press Institute)

Media accounts indicated that the incident, including Vidal's subsequent cries for water, was heard live on radio until the fire cut the feed.

Political motive suspected in arson attack on border town radio station (Reporters Without Borders)

“When criminals no longer hesitate to attack a radio station and its personnel while they are on the air, it is time the authorities dealt a blow to impunity. And the investigators must not hold back if it is confirmed that the attack was politically motivated. We like to think the case will be solved quickly,” said Reporters Without Borders.

IAPA outraged at attack on journalists in Bolivia (Inter American Press Association)

Critical Bolivian journalist set on fire by masked men (Committee to Protect Journalists)

Two suspects in Radio Popular arson attack still on the run (Reporters Without Borders)

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