Originally: Vandals force eight broadcast stations off the air in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Vandals armed with sledgehammers smashed radio antennas Tuesday, forcing at least seven radio stations and one television station off the air, a station owner said.

A group of men tied up guards and began attacking antennas on a hillside outside of suburban Petionville, witnesses said.

Privately-owned stations Radio Galaxie, Radio Kiskeya, Radio Melodie, Radio Magique-Stereo, Radio Plus, and Radio Signal-F.M. went off the air.

Radio and Television Ti-Moun, which are owned by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Foundation for Democracy, were also silenced.

Radio Kiskeya co-owner Marvel Dandin, who blamed the government, accompanied authorities to the site. Police said they were investigating.

The vandals damaged the antennas of pro-government stations only because their “attack was blind. Nothing marks the difference between one antenna and another,” Dandin said.

The attackers tried to force the security guards to identify the antenna of Radio Caraibes, which government partisans have accused of anti-government bias in its reporting, Dandin said.

Haiti has been in turmoil since May 2000 elections the opposition charges were rigged. Opposition parties refuse to participate in legislative elections unless Aristide steps down.

At least 46 have been killed and more than 100 wounded in street clashes between government supporters and opponents.

Aristide has said he opposes violence and favors a free press. Haitian media groups, however, accuse police and government supporters of regularly harassing journalists.

Some 30 Haitian journalists have gone into self-imposed exile in the past two years after receiving threats. There have been several attacks recently on private radio and television stations.