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Last Updated: Friday, 17 December, 2004, 13:09 GMT
Leading Gambian editor shot dead
Deyda Hydara
Deyda Hydara was the dean of The Gambia's press corps
One of The Gambia's leading journalists was shot dead as he drove home from work shortly after midnight.

Deyda Hydara, 58, editor of The Point newspaper and correspondent for the AFP news agency was shot three times in the head, his colleague said.

He was sharply critical of a tough new press law which was passed this week.

The private media has complained that the government is trying to muzzle it. In April, the printing press of another paper were burnt down.

The Independent accused state security agents of being behind the attack - a charge denied by the authorities.

The police say they have opened an investigation into the killing, in which two women travelling in Mr Hydara's car were also injured.

"He has been very critical of the government and very vocal in opposition to these repressive laws but that does not mean that he, of all people, should have been the target of an assassin's bullet," said the head of the Gambian Press Union, Demba Jawo.

The law was passed on Tuesday. It provides for jail terms for those found guilty of libel or sedition and the seizure of the homes of the editors of libellous newspapers.

The government said the law was needed to make journalists more responsible.

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