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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 February 2007, 18:03 GMT
Zimbabwe cartoon's bullet warning
Zimbabwean newspaper editor Bill Saidi holds up a bullet sent to him
Mr Saidi says it is a clear case of intimidation
Zimbabwean newspaper editor Bill Saidi has been sent a bullet in the post with a note warning: "Watch Your Step".

Enclosed with the bullet was a copy of a cartoon from last Sunday's edition of The Standard showing three baboons laughing over an army salary slip.

The week before a story claimed that many soldiers are deserting the army and moving to South Africa to work as security guards for better pay.

Many Zimbabweans seek to escape the country's deepening economic crisis.

It has the world's highest rates of annual inflation - at more than 1,000% and unemployment stands at more than 70%.

Critics say President Robert Mugabe has ruined what was one of Africa's most developed economies following the collapse of the commercial agriculture sector in 2000.

Mr Mugabe says he is the victim of a Western plot to bring him down because of opposition to his seizure of white-owned land.

'Shock'

Mr Saidi told the BBC the bullet was a clear case of intimidation.

The cartoon which prompted the warning

"I was shocked to see the bullet. Someone was trying to send a dreadful message to us," the acting editor of the private weekly said.

After receiving the anonymous warning, Mr Saidi said the army had written to him requesting a meeting to familiarise itself with the operations of the paper.

A date would certainly be put aside for the meeting, he said.

In recent years, the authorities have closed down newspapers critical of the government and introduced increasingly strict laws restricting the media, but the Standard is one of the few to survive.

Local journalist Brian Hungwe in the capital, Harare, says the incident has prompted fears of a clampdown on the paper.

Two Standard journalists were detained by the army in 1999 for writing a story which claimed there had been an attempted coup.


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