The International Press Institute (IPI), a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists for press freedom, today vehemently condemned the attack on the offices of Canal de Moçambique and urged the government of Mozambique to bring the perpetrators to justice.

On  August 23, around 8 pm local time some people entered the newsroom of the weekly, poured gasoline and set fireto computers, files and furniture. Within minutes the property was completely gutted and families living in the building were forced to evacuate.

A few days ago, the weekly had published an exposé highlighting the dispute over the control of  the fuel marking business in the country, which is estimated to be around 2.5 billion meticais (€29 million).

Some Mozambican journalists, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told IPI that they suspect the attack was masterminded by some politicians of the ruling party and businessmen supporting them.

“The arson attack on the weekly’s office is a blow to press freedom in Mozambique”, IPI Director of Advocacy Ravi R. Prasad said. “Journalists in the country have been repeatedly targeted by politicians and the ruling elite to prevent them from writing about widespread corruption. The government should direct law enforcement to immediately arrest those responsible for the attack.”

Over the years, the Mozambican government has tried to stifle press freedom. In August 2018, the government imposed hefty fees on foreign correspondents working in the country, including a staggering $2500 (€2,149) for single trip accreditation.

On April 7 this year, Ibraimo Abú Mbaruco, a journalist with Palma Community Radio, was detained by military officers in Mozambique’s restless north-eastern Cabo Delgado province. Mbaruco went missing on April 7 after leaving his radio station around 6 p.m. and since then neither his family nor his employer has heard from him.

The journalist was seen leaving the radio in the Cabo Delgado Province on his motorbike when he was approached by military officers. Before being taken away by the officers, Mbaruco managed to send a text message on his phone to his colleagues informing them that he was being approached.

The whereabouts of the journalists are still unknown.