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Bombs explode outside offices of two newspapers in Ecuador

Fundamedios

This statement was originally published on fundamedios.org on 30 July 2015.

This morning, Fundamedios condemned the explosion of two pamphlet bombs. One across the offices of the newspaper El Universo and the second at the entrance of the state-controlled newspaper, El Telégrafo. “We must condemn violence wherever it comes from”, said the executive director of the organization that monitors, defends and promotes freedom of expression in Ecuador, César Ricaurte. “The authorities should seriously investigate these events and find the culprits. We hope that these are not just more cases of violence against journalists and media outlets that go unpunished because of the lack of pronouncements and actions by government authorities”. Finally, he recalled that the Ecuadorian State has the responsibility to protect and guarantee journalists' work, especially in situations of social conflict.

On the night of Wednesday, 29 July, the facilities of the newspapers El Universo and the state-controlled El Telegrafo were attacked with pamphlet bombs in Guayaquil. The first bomb exploded at about 22:00 at the offices of El Universo and the second one about an hour later at the premises of El Telégrafo, as reported in the media outlets' Twitter accounts.

In both cases, the explosive devices carried a note from the 'National Liberation Front', signed by 'Comandante Ramiro' who stated that “the true Ecuadorian revolutionaries” are tired of “so much squandering” by the Ecuadorian government and after criticizing some officials, the military's high salaries, excessive travelling, bodyguards and drivers, mentioned that they were responsible for the device that exploded on 13 July at the headquarters of the government movement Alianza PAÍS and warned that it was a “first notice”.

This pamphlet – which was published by El Telégrafo and disseminated through social media by the Ministry of the Interior – concludes with the following warning: “The first salvo has been sent, we will continue strengthening the troops with young people who get frustrated with lost time and want to fight for a better Ecuador”.

According to El Telégrafo, the pamphlet bomb that exploded outside the building caused alarm among the employees who were still on the premises, where the state newspaper PP El Verdadero also operates. “The device was placed next to the gate on Carlos Julio Arosemena Avenue, next to the parking lot, which was empty at the time, just on the downward ramp of the overpass coming from the Bellavista citadel”, said the newspaper. Its editor in chief, Orlando Pérez, condemned the acts of violence against the public newspaper and reported that in recent days they had received aggressive calls and messages through social networks that only showed the aim is to “intimidate the responsible and ethical work of the public media”.

Meanwhile, El Universo reported that the explosion caused no material damage, but that residents of the sector came out of their houses alarmed when they heard the blast.

Interior Minister Jose Serrano reported in his Twitter account that the National Police are investigating the explosions, while the Ministry, through the account @MinInteriorEC, stated that the bombs seemed to be homemade using gunpowder.

Guayas Provincial Attorney Paúl Ponce, during a reconnaissance of the newspapers' facilities, told the media that this could be taken as a terrorist act to generate anxiety among the population. He said the Forensic Unit is in charge of the investigations and that he has made clarifying these events a priority. They are still waiting for an expert report about the events and the declarations of residents and employees.

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