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Taliban suspected in attack on Radio Pakistan Wana

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders condemns a pre-dawn attack with explosives on 3 April 2009 on Radio Pakistan Wana, a state-owned radio station in South Waziristan, part of the Tribal Areas adjoining the Afghan border. The attack, which destroyed the station, was almost certainly carried out by Taliban activists but their motive is unknown.

"Waziristan has clearly become a lawless region not just for ordinary citizens but for journalists in particular," Reporters Without Borders said. "This station had already been forced to cut back to the minimum because of repeated Taliban harassment and was no longer broadcasting any programmes that could have been the subject of debate."

The press freedom organisation added: "The Pakistani government has set up many state radio stations in the Tribal Areas, where the Taliban threaten journalists and ransack media offices. We urge the authorities to accept that they have a duty to protect journalists and prevent attacks on the media so that press freedom can be established in the Tribal Areas."

Officials said gunmen surrounded Radio Pakistan Wana at around 2 a.m. on 3 April, broke down the doors and took the transmission equipment. The militants blew up the building after taking equipment away, an official said. A local government official who asked not to be identified told Reporters Without Borders: "The Taliban are suspected of destroying the radio station and taking equipment early this morning."

This was the third armed attack on Radio Pakistan Wana since its creation in 2004. The first one came just a few days after it began operating. The second one was in 2006. It is the only radio station in the area and the only source of entertainment for South Waziristan's inhabitants. Residents told Reporters Without Borders that the station stopped broadcasting music two years ago after being threatened by the Taliban. Since then, it had only been broadcasting reports about development projects, sports news and Islamic instruction.

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