Originally: Attack on Transmission Center Silences Haitian Radios

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Jan 13 (Reuters) – Armed men attacked several

independent Haitian radio stations on Tuesday, smashed transmission systems

and forced them off the air, a guard and staff at the stations said.

     Staff at some of the affected stations blamed government supporters

for the attacks, however, there was no definitive information on the

identities of attackers or their motives. In the past supporters of

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide have threatened independent radio stations

and have harassed and attacked journalists.

     Government officials were not immediately available to comment.

     UHF and microwave equipment used by seven radio stations, one

television station and the communications system of a bank were destroyed

in the attack at the transmission center at La Boule, in the mountains

above Port-au-Prince.

     The guard, Bremar Vil, said that nine armed men drove up in a

four-wheel drive vehicle, tied him up and asked him where they could find

the transmitting machines for one independent radio station, Radio


     Vil said he told them he did not know and the men then smashed all the

equipment with batons.

     One radio station and the television station whose equipment was

damaged are government-affiliated but the other radio stations are all

independent. For some of the stations, the equipment at La Boule was the

only way of getting on air.

     Lilian Pierre-Paul, director of Radio Kiskaya, said she thought the

government was at fault because of its criticisms of the independent media.

The independent media have actively reported rising protests against

Aristide by opponents who accuse the president of mismanagement and


     “I was shocked because despite everything we never believed it would

come to this,” said Anne Marie Issa, the director general of Signal FM, one

of the radio stations silenced.

     Issa said that like other independent radio stations, hers had

received threats. She was skeptical there would an official investigation

into the attack.

     Aristide is facing almost daily street protests by the opposition in a

three-year political stalemate sparked by a dispute over the results of

parliamentary elections in 2000.