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Pro-government TV station attacked, three people killed

(RSF/IFEX) - 27 June 2012 - Three people were killed in a bomb attack today on the headquarters of the commercial pro-government television station Al-Ikhbariya TV in Drousha, south of Damascus, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported. The victims' identities and the exact circumstances of the attack were not known.

“United Nations observers must visit the scene where we hope they will be able to ascertain the circumstances of the attack and the identities of the three people killed,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“News organizations should not be used as targets by the parties to the conflict. Under U.N. resolution 1738, media workers and their premises are protected.

“However, we deplore in the strongest possible terms the broadcast by the media of messages inciting hatred and violence against civilians. Media organizations must not act as mouthpieces for propaganda of any kind.

The government of President Bashar Al-Assad quickly condemned the blast, calling it a barbaric terrorist attack. SANA published images of the destroyed premises.

Omran Al-Zoebi, Syria's new information minister, told state television: “Terrorists stormed the Al-Ikhbariya head office, placed explosives in the studios and set them off.”

He added that they had stolen equipment and “executed journalists and employees”. The station was still broadcasting.

The attack occurred a day after the European Union decided to toughen sanctions against “all those responsible for inciting violence against Syria's civilian population” and those spreading disinformation and “serving as a propaganda instrument for the Assad regime “.

On 12 June, SANA reported that two journalists from the same station were wounded when their vehicle came under fire in Al-Haffah, in the northern governorate of Latakia. Mazen Mohammad was wounded in the hand and cameraman Fadi Yakoub in the chest.
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