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Arsonists destroy Pro-Gbagbo printing press

(MFWA/IFEX) - The printing press of La Refondation media group, publishers of "Notre Voie", a daily newspaper belonging to Laurent Gbagbo, the detained former President of Côte d'Ivoire, was destroyed in the early hours of 22 April 2011 by unknown arsonists who stormed the building in Abidjan and set the machine on fire.

This attack followed an earlier one on 13 April, two days after forces loyal to President Alassane Ouattara captured Gbagbo in a raid. The armed men, believed to be elements of President Ouattara, allegedly looted and destroyed the equipment of "Notre Voie" and "Le Temps" newspapers.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the attack came despite the management of La Refondation media group contracting soldiers of the Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FRCI) to protect their properties.

The correspondent said all pro-Gbagbo newspapers have been out of circulation since 18 April and most journalists supporting Gbagbo's cause have also gone into hiding, allegedly for security reasons.

One of the newspapers, "Le Temps", which occasionally publishes an online version, on 15 April accused the Ouattara government of hatching a systematic plot "to kill all pro-Gbagbo journalists" and that a meeting to that effect had been held where 17 journalists were "blacklisted". This allegation was denied by pro-Ouattara authorities.

Marcel Legré, a machine operator of the printing press, was violently killed by pro-Ouattara militants during an armed confrontation in Koumassi, a suburb of Abidjan, on 28 February.

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