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Paris, 12 February {No. 96-27}- UNESCO Director-General Federico Mayor today strongly condemned the weekend attacks that destroyed the offices of several Algerian newspapers and injured and killed a number of persons at the city's Tahar Djaout press centre, and offered UNESCO's aid in re-establishing the centre.

"I categorically condemn these murderous attacks on Algeria's media organs and journalists," Mr Mayor said. "This bombing of the Tahar Djaout press centre in Algiers is a particularly vicious strike at the very symbol of the country's free press. But such wholesale destruction and killing directed at the country's information channels must not discourage those who continue to carry out a mission vital to the public discourse in a democracy. UNESCO stands ready to assist in re-establishing the Tahar Djaout press centre and to help Algerian journalists work in the best possible conditions. I extend my condolences to the families of the deceased."

A car bomb exploded Sunday afternoon in front of a building in Algiers which houses several newspapers, including Le Soir d'Algérie, El Watan, and l'Opinion, killing at least 18 persons and injuring more than 50, according to media reports. Allaoua Ait Mebarek, editor-in-chief of Le Soir d'Algérie, reportedly died in the blast, along with two other journalists at the same paper, Mohamed Dorben and Djamel Deraza. The day before, another Algerian newsman, Abdallah Bouhechek of the weekly Révolution et Travail, was shot dead near Blida, south of Algiers, media reported.

The Tahar Djaout press centre also included a bureau established by the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), in collaboration with the Algerian Association of Journalists, with financial support from UNESCO.


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