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Tamil daily "Uthayan" target of grenade attack

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is outraged by a grenade attack on the headquarters of the Tamil daily newspaper "Uthayan" in the northern city of Jaffna at about 11 p.m. (local time) on 24 March 2009. The grenade exploded in the ground floor of the building, causing considerable damage and injuring a guard.

"This was yet another attempt to stop distribution of "Uthayan" and comes less than a month after the arrest of N. Vithyatharan, the editor of the Tamil daily "Sudar Oli", an Uthayan press group publication," Reporters Without Borders said.

"The use of violence and intimidation against the staff of 'Sudar Oli' and 'Uthayan' is absolutely unacceptable," the press freedom organisation added. "We urge the Sri Lankan authorities to carry out a thorough investigation with the aim of arresting those responsible and bringing them to trial."

Tamil media voiced suspicion that the orders for the attack on "Uthayan" came from within M. Rajapakse's government. Senior officials had reportedly told news organisations not publish reports about civilian victims of the fighting in the northern district of Vanni or to reproduce interviews which the Tamil Tiger (LTTE) rebels had given to foreign news media. "Uthayan" and another newspaper, "Valampuri", had nonetheless printed photos of children killed in Vanni.

A member of the "Uthayan" staff said the grenade attack was an attempt to sabotage the newspaper's operations. The newspaper was nonetheless able to put out the next day's issue.

For further information on the Vithyatharan case, see:

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