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Mozambican paper burnt down after state documents leaked

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The August 23 attack on the facilities of the Canal de Moçambique news outlet in Mozambique. PHOTO : Twitter/ @CanHCMozambique

Unidentified assailants in Mozambique have set fire to the headquarters of an investigative newspaper that angered the government by leaking confidential documents earlier this year, its editor said on Monday.

The privately-owned Canal de Mocambique probes alleged state corruption and is openly critical of the regime.

Public prosecutors sued the paper in June after it circulated confidential contracts between the government and liquefied natural gas exploration companies in the restive northern Cabo Delgado region.

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The leaked documents showed plans to send troops to protect the companies from insurgents that have been wreaking havoc in the area since 2017.

Canal de Mocambique’s offices were attacked late on Sunday in the capital Maputo.

“They broke down the doors yesterday around 8 pm (1800 GMT) and set everything on fire with fuel,” editor Matias Gente told AFP on Monday.

All furniture, documents and electronics were destroyed by the blaze.

“We are not naive to think that this is a common crime,” Gente added. “It is because of our work that certain sectors of society have not been pleased.”

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Mozambican police have not yet commented on the incident, which has been denounced by journalists and rights groups.

“This attack represents a serious blow to the freedom of the press, one of the foundations of democracy,” the Maputo-based Center for Democracy and Development said in a statement.

Veteran journalist Fernando Lima denounced “a terrorist act against press freedom”.

Government officials have accused the editor Gente of undermining state security through his work.

He was assaulted by strangers in downtown Maputo last year and believes he narrowly escaped the kidnapping.

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