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Private TV station attacked in Sri Lanka: police

world Updated: Jan 06, 2009 12:37 IST
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Attackers torched a private TV station in Sri Lanka on Tuesday after it was labelled "unpatriotic" for its coverage of the war against Tamil rebels, police and media activists said.

The studios and control room of the Maharaja TV network just outside Colombo were smashed and set alight in a pre-dawn attack, police said.

Media rights activists said the station had been accused by sections of the state media of "unpatriotic" coverage and criticised for reporting a suicide bombing in Colombo on Friday, the day troops took the rebel political capital of Kilinochchi.

"We strongly condemned the attack on the MTV offices and we urge the authorities to speedily investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice," said the president of the Working Journalists' Association, Sanath Balasuriya.

Media rights activist Poddala Jayantha said the attack followed hate speech spread by a section of the state media.

An MTV spokesman said men in a van without number plates had carried out the attack, which came two days after the station was hit with a petrol bomb. There were no casualties, but the station was severely damaged.

Journalists, newspapers and even newspaper delivery boys in Sri Lanka have come under attack as part of the bitter ethnic war between Tamil Tiger rebels and Sri Lankan security forces.

Several journalists -- some Tamils and others from the majority Sinhalese community -- have been killed, but no one has been held responsible despite government promises to investigate.