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Investigative journalist in hiding after escaping kidnap attempt; radio station ransacked, set ablaze

(MFWA/IFEX) - André Silver Konan, an investigative journalist and a victim of several attacks from pro-Gbagbo forces, has gone into hiding after allegedly escaping a kidnap attempt on March 8, 2011.

In an e-mail to the Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent, Konan, a senior reporter with "Le Nouveau Réveil", a pro-Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) daily, said his life was in danger, hence his decision to flee.

The correspondent said that although Konan did not provide the exact circumstances of the kidnapping attempt, he accused "militiamen of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo" of being behind this latest attack.

Konan, who is also a writer and known for his caustic criticism of the Gbagbo regime, was in 2006 subjected to a 13-hour interrogation at the High Command of the national gendarmerie following an article he wrote and headlined, "The 100 crimes of the Ivorian Popular Front Party (FPI) regime".

He broke the story of the importation of toxic waste into the country, allegedly by Gbagbo's clan, in August 2006, which resulted in the deaths of some Ivoirians.

That same year also, he accused the Gbagbo regime of ordering all publishing houses in the country not to publish his first book, "L'opposant historique" (The Historic Opponent), which describes the misadventures of a character bearing a strange resemblance to Gbagbo.

In another development, on March 14, 2011, four armed men believed to be members of the "invisible commando", an insurgent group in Abobo, a northern suburb of the capital, Abidjan, seized a vehicle belonging to the Groupe Olympe, publishers of the privately-owned "Soir Info" and "L'Inter" newspapers, as well as "Star Magazine".

The MFWA correspondent reported that the four strapping men ordered the occupants out of the vehicle saying, "There are some wounded persons we have to rush to the hospital. Give us your vehicle. We shall return it to you later." The four armed men then drove the vehicle in the opposite direction. They have since not returned the car.

Finally, on March 16, 2011, armed men believed to be elements of the pro-Gbagbo Defence and Security Forces (FDS), stormed the premises of Téré FM, a community radio station based in Williamsville, in the commune of Adjamé, ransacked and then burned down the station.

MFWA's correspondent reported that the armed youths took away the station's equipment before setting it ablaze.

Before the attack, the young men opened fire on the Café Téré, located in the same building as the radio station, to disperse everyone in the vicinity.

The FDS, militiamen and mercenaries have been terrorising civilians in the area in recent times, according to MFWA's correspondent.

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