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Journalist injured in bomb blast in Mato Grosso do Sul state ahead of municipal election

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has voiced concern and called for security to be stepped up for the press ahead of local elections after a political journalist and editorialist in Mato Grosso do Sul state in central-western Brazil was injured in a bomb blast.

Neiva Pinheiro Veiga, aged 46, director of the bi-weekly "O Liberal", was hurt by shards from a home-made bomb thrown into a crowd as she was leaving a meeting called by the outgoing mayor of Japorã, Rubens Freire Marinho, on 30 August 2008. She was covering the meeting for her paper.

She also suffered first and second degree burns to her legs and a child in the crowd suffered slight injuries. Witnesses said they saw a young man throw the bomb and police quickly arrested Júnior Rodrigues da Silva, aged 27, living in Itaquiraí. He denied all involvement in the bombing.

The attack on Neiva Veiga could be down to political motives, given that on the day it happened she had just been named at the head of the centre-left Democratic Labour Party (PDT) for Mundo Novo, where she lives. Neiva Veiga is also highly critical in her editorials of politicians in the region.

In the run-up to municipal elections on 5 October, the worldwide press freedom organisation called on state governments and federal authorities to ensure better security for journalists covering them.

"Fortunately, Neiva Veiga's life is not in danger. We express our support for her newspaper and in particular its editor, Celso Maciel Veiga, who is her husband. We welcome the fact that a suspect was quickly arrested. However, we would like to point out that as the country enters the local election campaign, we fear that in some regions the press, particularly local, is exposed to threats and intimidation," the organisation said.

"We therefore recommend the greatest vigilance to the state governments and federal authorities. We also hope, that in the very near future, the motive will be uncovered for the attack on Neiva Veiga", it added.

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