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Bomb Destroys Studio of Zimbabwe Independent Radio Station - 2002-08-29

In Zimbabwe's capital, a bomb has destroyed the local studio of an independent radio station that has been critical of the government.

The bomb exploded at the studio of the Voice of the People, a station that recorded material in Zimbabwe and broadcast it from facilities in the Netherlands. The local studio in the suburb of Milton Park was used to edit and prepare reports and interviews in the Shona and Ndebele languages.

The material was broadcast from abroad to avoid Zimbabwe's restrictions on local broadcasts.

A security guard at the studio said three men arrived during the night, one threatened him with a gun and two men broke windows, threw bombs into the building, and then ran away. Seconds later, he said, the bombs tore the building apart. No one was injured.

Police say they have found fingerprints and described this as a "positive lead."

Zimbabwe's information minister Jonathan Moyo has repeatedly described the Voice of the People as part of an international conspiracy against Zimbabwe.

The Chairman of the station's board in Zimbabwe, Faith Ndebele, expressed shock at the attack and said she hopes the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Last year, a bomb destroyed the printing press of Zimbabwe's only privately-owned daily newspaper, The Daily News. No arrests have been made in that case.

In other developments, the national office of a human rights group, The Amani Trust, was raided in central Harare. The group monitors political violence and provides medical care for victims. Frances Lovemore, a doctor who recorded testimony from victims and arranged their treatment in private hospitals, was arrested.

Meanwhile, soldiers flattened buildings being set up to house displaced farm workers about 30 miles west of Harare. The army rounded up about 20 workers at the site, and left them at a nearby Police Station.

More farm workers are expected to be displaced as the government takes control of formerly white-owned farms in the coming weeks.