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Journalist survives assassination attempt in Portuguesa state

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned a murder attempt against Rafael Finol, a political correspondent for the privately-owned daily "El Regional" in Acarigua, Portuguesa state, central-western Venezuela.

The 62-year-old journalist was leaving his office on the evening of 13 January 2009 when two individuals travelling in a Tucson-type truck opened fire on him and then fled the scene, witnesses said. A nine-millimetre bullet grazed the journalist's head, leaving him with only slight injuries.

The motive for the attack is as yet unclear but Finol himself, who quickly recovered after treatment at a hospital, said he is convinced that it was for political reasons. "I knew this would happen after the recent interview I had with President Chávez," he said. "It was the work of the extreme right, who want to kill me", he told colleagues.

Finol, who is an avowed supporter of the president, also said that he has recently been active in the Palestinian cause.

Members of the local press who spoke to Reporters Without Borders were unable to confirm whether the journalist or the newspaper had previously received any threats. Rafael Finol and his family are now being provided with protection.

"First of all we are relieved that Rafael Finol has recovered and we hope he can quickly get back to work," the worldwide press freedom organisation said. "An investigation should now swiftly establish if the attack was linked to his work, since theft can already be ruled out. An attack of this kind also means that security should be provided at the offices of 'El Regional'", it added.

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