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Offices of "Le Défi" newspaper attacked and ransacked

(MFWA/IFEX) - A group of unknown assailants believed to be supporters of President Alpha Condé of Guinea on July 21, 2011 ransacked the offices of "Le Defi", a privately-owned weekly newspaper.

The attack comes at a time when "Le Defi" is serving a ban imposed on it by the media regulatory body, the National Council for Communication (CNC), over allegations of unprofessionalism. The newspaper is alleged to have sympathies for former junta leader, Captain Moussa Dadis Camara, who is convalescing in Burkina Faso, after surviving an assassination attempt in 2009. "Le Defi" is alleged to have been attacking the administration of President Condé.

The Media Foundation for West Africa's (MFWA) correspondent reported that the assailants broke into the premises of the newspaper at about 21 hours GMT and destroyed the station's equipment including computers. They also took away unpublished editorial materials.

Although the assailants did not explicitly state the motive for the attack, the correspondent said that they left behind a note that read: "You are enemies of Guinea. Go to hell".

The correspondent believes that the attack on the newspaper was a reprisal after armed men believed to be loyalists of Captain Camara attacked the residence of President Condé on July 18, 2011.

"We still do not know who was behind this", "Le Defi"'s publisher El Hadj Bah, a close associate of the military dictator, told MFWA.

"Le Défi" was suspended for two months on June 10 over a commentary that the CNC said was defamatory of General Facinet Touré, the country's ombudsman. The ban officially ends in August 2011.

In another development, Yamoussa Sidibé, the star presenter of the state-owned Radio and Television of Guinea (RTG) was suspended without explanation on July 17, 2011.

MFWA's correspondent reported that the decision was communicated to Sidibé verbally from the powers that be at the head office of the national television station.

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