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Gunmen destroy studios of Sri Lankan broadcaster

6/01/2009 - 5:58

COLOMBO (Reuters) - Masked gunmen with grenades destroyed the main studio of Sri Lanka's largest private broadcaster Tuesday, after state media criticised it for coverage of a Tamil Tiger suicide blast last week.

The early morning assault by about 15 attackers knocked MBC Network's three TV stations and four radio channels off the air for several hours after the gunmen blew up the master control room, witnesses and station officials said.

MBC has clashed with the government and police before over its coverage, and again over the weekend was criticised by state-run media for giving too much coverage to a Tamil Tiger suicide blast Friday after a major military victory.

"It's either that the citizens of Sri Lanka are able to drive around attacking institutions armed with weapons and grenades, or there is a hand behind it," MTV Channel head Cheevan Daniel told Reuters when asked who was responsible.

At the studio complex outside Colombo shortly after the attack, shattered glass was everywhere and doors were broken, while smoke poured out of the building as firefighters battled the blaze and an army bomb squad checked for more explosives.

(Reporting by Ranga Sirilal; Writing and additional reporting by Bryson Hull; Editing by Sugita Katyal)


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