Seven injured, one seriously, in armed attack on Bissau radio station
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled by an attack by masked gunmen on Capital FM, a radio station in Bissau, the capital of Guinea-Bissau, in which seven people including three of its journalists were injured. The authorities must quickly identify those responsible, RSF says.
One of the journalists, Maimuna Bari, is still in a serious condition in Bissau’s military hospital with spine and rib injuries that she sustained during the attack on the privately-owned, pro-opposition radio station, which was carried out at around 11 a.m. on 7 February by masked men wearing military uniforms and armed with Kalashnikovs.
The gunmen opened fire, ransacked the premises and destroyed all the equipment they found. The two other Capital FM journalists injured in the attack were Ansumane So, whose arm was broken, and Bala Sambu, who sustained a foot injury. Technicians and other employees were also injured.
The attack came six days after a failed coup attempt in Guinea-Bissau on 1 February in which 11 people were killed. While all other radio stations kept broadcasting after the coup attempt, Capital FM – which is known for being very critical of the government and sympathetic to the opposition – closed for six days as a safety measure. The station’s executive director, Lassana Cassamá, told RSF that it had just resumed broadcasting when the attack took place.
At a press conference several hours after the attack, public order deputy police commissioner Salvador Soares described it as an “isolated incident,” said the assailants “just damaged broadcasting equipment” and insisted that there was “no reason to be alarmed.”
“We condemn this exceptionally violent attack and deplore the conclusions reached by the police, which were hasty, at the very least, and seem far removed from what actually took place,” said Sadibou Marong, the director of RSF’s West Africa bureau. “Several members of the radio station, including journalists, were targeted by men in military inform less than a week after a coup attempt. The grave events that took place seem far from being an ‘isolated incident’ and we call on the authorities to take them seriously. Those responsible must be identified and arrested.”
A popular radio station widely regarded as sympathetic to the opposition African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), Capital FM has often been threatened in the past. Gunmen stormed into the station and destroyed much of its equipment in a previous attack on 26 July 2020. An investigation was opened but the perpetrators were never identified.
Guinea-Bissau is ranked 95th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2021 World Press Freedom Index.