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Arson attack causes serious damage to opposition weekly's press

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders has condemned an arson attack that seriously damaged the printing press of the pro-opposition weekly "Regar" on the night of 8 December 2005.

"The attack seems to have been politically motivated and such methods of intimidation are utterly unacceptable," the press freedom organisation said. "There must be a thorough investigation to find and punish those responsible in accordance with the law."

The fire destroyed the plastic parts of the press but the cooling system prevented it from spreading to the entire building, although someone had scattered petrol over the floor. A piece of cloth soaked in kerosene was found in the debris. Managing editor Roger Mancienne said the press could be operational again soon, after they obtained replacements for the damaged parts.

The arson attack has come amid mounting tension in the run-up to presidential elections early next year. Mancienne said: "This is an attempt to censor us that clearly had a political motive. The newspaper was threatened recently and we have informed the police about our suspicions."

President James Michel made veiled threats to the opposition Seychelles National Party (SNP) and "Regar" at a recent public meeting. "Regar" has been the target of a series of libel actions. Two of them, over articles criticising Michel, are still pending.

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