Soaked matches save journalist from being burned alive | world | Hindustan Times
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Soaked matches save journalist from being burned alive

world Updated: Jun 04, 2011 12:34 IST

Kidnapped Colombian journalist Mario Esteban Lopez escaped being burned alive by kidnappers because the gasoline they doused him with wetted their matches, he told EFE.

"I struggled with them, the pack of matches fell to the floor of the car and was left completely soaked," he said Friday by telephone from southern Colombia.

"When they wanted to light me up, I saw that they couldn't."

Lopez is director of Ipiales' Channel 22 television, whose signal reaches much of Nariño province and some communities in neighbouring northern Ecuador.

He said the attack on him was the work of people associated with drug traffickers.

The 28-year-old journalist was accosted Wednesday night on his way home from work, as two assailants got into his car and forced him to drive to a deserted area on the edge of the city.

After beating him and trying to tie him up, the attackers doused Lopez with gasoline. But as he fought back, the pack of matches fell to the soaked floor of the vehicle.

Just then, the appearance of a police patrol car alarmed his captors and they fled, Lopez said.

The journalist filed formal complaints with police and prosecutors Thursday, but authorities declined to provide him with protection.

"Police only gave me a self-security manual," said Lopez.

Lopez, who lives with his parents and two younger sisters, said his family is increasingly fearful.

"Two threats were made against me a few months ago, with anonymous telephones calls over (my) reports about drug traffickers," he said, while adding that he also antagonised officials with coverage of municipal corruption.