Journalist wounded in grenade attack in Colombia

Published August 05, 2012


A radio presenter was wounded in the arms by unknown attackers who struck at a community radio station in Colombia's Arauca province, which borders on Venezuela.

The Sarare Estereo radio station in Saravena is the same station that employs a female reporter and an environmental engineer who were kidnapped two weeks ago by the National Liberation Army, or ELN, guerrillas, Colombia's Press Freedom Foundation, or FLIP, said.

Paola Osorio, a journalist and presenter, was wounded when the attackers threw a fragmentation grenade at the station last Friday around midnight, the FLIP said in a statement. The station was being protected by police at the time.

"The explosive detonated several meters (yards) from the station and wounded the presenter who was leaving the facility at that time," the non-governmental organization said.

"A female journalist was slightly wounded (and) ... the attack was against on-duty police," Arauca police commander Col. Wilson Bravo told the FLIP.

Sarare Estereo has been the community's voice in denouncing violent acts by the guerrillas and abuses against the local population by the public forces, Emiro Goyeneche, the director of the station, which has been on the air for 17 years, told the FLIP.

Due to the nature of its work, the station receives regular threats against its journalists and facilities, Goyeneche said.

The situation in Saravena is very difficult and last Wednesday two grenades exploded near the Municipal Attorney's Office, the Arauca Ombudsman's Office told the FLIP.

ELN guerrillas on July 25 staged two parallel raids in Saravena in which they kidnapped journalist Elida Parra and environmental engineer Gina Paola Uribe.

Parra heads a program for children at Sarare Estereo.

The women remain in rebel custody. Both are linked to firms hired by a petroleum consortium that is building Colombia's Bicentennial Oil Pipeline or OBC, which will transport crude from Arauca to a Caribbean port for export.

The FLIP requested protection from the authorities for the radio station, staff members and journalists, and it asked prosecutors to investigate all the threats against the broadcaster.

A recent report by the Colombian Federation of Journalists, or Fecolper, says that community radio stations have been the Colombian media outlets most affected by attacks and threats on journalistic activities during the first half of this year.

During that time, three journalists working at community radio stations have been murdered. EFE