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Vehicle owned by Montenegrin daily set on fire in latest incident targeting the newspaper

The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO), an affiliate of the International Press Institute (IPI), is alarmed by today's arson attack against a vehicle owned by the Montenegrin daily Vijesti.

At 2:30 a.m., a car marked with the name of the daily was set ablaze on a street in the Podgorica, the latest of several attacks against Vijesti's journalists and property over the past eight years. In three separate incidents in 2011, four company cars were set on fire by unidentified assailants.

“The attacks against Vijesti are worrying. I call on the authorities – including the police and the state prosecutor – to immediately open an investigation into this incident and ensure that the perpetrators of this attack are brought to justice,” SEEMO Secretary-General Oliver Vujovic said. “The authorities in Montenegro should also investigate all other unsolved attacks and threats against journalists and media companies in Montenegro in recent years. It is disturbing that most police investigations did not result in arrests of those responsible.”

Attacks on or threats against journalists in Montenegro in past years include:

2014: On Jan. 3 in the town of Niksic, an unknown assailant attacked the Dan daily newspaper correspondent Lidija Nikcevic, repeatedly striking her in the head with a stick causing injuries that required hospitalisation. 

2013: An unknown assailant threw a stone at the window of the Montena television station in Podgorica on Dec. 30. Four days earlier, a bomb exploded under the windows of the office of Vijesti's editor-in-chief, Mihailo Jovovic. The explosion damaged the building but caused no harm to staff members who were there at the time.

On Aug. 11, a device exploded in front of the home of Tufik Softic in the town of Berane. Softic, a correspondent for Vijesti, was at home with his family at the time. The incident was not the first attack on Softic: On Nov. 1, 2007, two individuals beat him in front of his home. Softic at that time was working for Radio Berane and for the daily Republika.

2012: An assailant attacked Olivera Lakic, an investigative reporter with Vijesti, on March 12, striking her several times in the head. Lakic was hospitalised following the attack. Lakic and her daughter also received serious threats one year earlier while Lakic was investigating reported organised crime in the tobacco trade.

2011: Two clearly marked Vijesti company cars were set ablaze on July 14. Another car belonging to the daily was torched on July 23 and then a fourth on Aug. 27.

2010: Zeljko Ivanovic, one of Vijesti's founders, and several other journalists received death threats by post.

2009: The mayor of Podgorica and his son reportedly attacked Mihailo Jovovic and Boris Pejovic of Vijesti on Aug. 6 as they witnessed the men's improper parking of vehicles in the town. The mayor's son allegedly threatened the journalists with a gun and Jovovic was treated at a hospital for a head injury.

2008: Sports journalist Mladen Stojovic was severely beaten in his apartment in Bar, a port town less than a 100 km south of Podgorica on May 23. Stojovic suffered numerous fractures and he suffered amnesia for four days. Some observers speculated that the attack might have been connected to his reporting on the alleged fixing of soccer matches.

2007: In September, several assailants attacked Vijesti founder Zeljko Ivanovic near a restaurant where the newspaper was celebrating its 10th anniversary. Ivanovic was received medical treatment.

2004: The founder and editor-in-chief of Dan, Dusko Jovanovic, was killed in a drive-by shooting in Podgorica early on May 28 in front of his office building.

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