New York, February 13, 2013--Authorities in Kurdistan should immediately investigate and apprehend the perpetrators responsible for an explosion on the roof of the independent Nalia Radio and Television in Sulaymaniyah on Saturday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The attack occurred the day after the station aired a caller's criticism of Mustafa Barzani, the former leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.
"The Kurdistan Regional Government must conduct an immediate criminal investigation and bring those responsible to justice," said Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa Coordinator. "It's unacceptable for the government to stand by and allow these dangerous attacks to be conducted against a news outlet."
An unidentified individual called the station's program "Free Microphone" on Friday and criticized Barzani, father of the current president, Massoud Barzani, according to news reports. News reports did not describe the nature of the criticism, and the station did not immediately return messages from CPJ seeking elaboration.
Hours before the explosion, riot police prevented hundreds of angry protesters from storming the Nalia building, news reports said.
There were no casualties, and the station was able to continue broadcasting.
No groups have claimed responsibility for the attack. Abdulwahab Ali, local leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, denied the party's involvement in the demonstration, Agence France-Presse reported.
Nalia Radio and Television began broadcasting in February 2011 as northern Iraq's first independent media station. The station has been attacked in the past. The month it opened, 50 unidentified assailants attacked the outlet and set it on fire after the station covered protests against the KDP, news reports said.
- For more data and analysis on Iraq, visit CPJ's Iraq page here.