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Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 21:41 GMT 22:41 UK
Journalist detained in Zimbabwe
Obed Zilwa's photo of bomb
The bomb attack, as photographed by Obed Zilwa
By Richard Lister in Harare

Police in Zimbabwe are holding a photographer from the Associated Press news agency in connection with the bomb attack on an office building in Harare on Saturday night.

No one was hurt in the attack, which appeared to have been aimed at the offices of the only independent daily newspaper in Zimbabwe, the Daily News.

Obed Zilwa, a South African citizen, was arrested as he prepared to board a flight back to Johannesburg on Wednesday morning.

The Daily News is known for its critical coverage of President Mugabe and the bomb attack was widely assumed to have been the work of pro-government extremists, who have threatened the paper in the past.

But government officials here tried to implicate foreign journalists in Harare, whom they said had got to the scene suspiciously quickly, despite the fact that most heard the blast from their hotels nearby.

Held without charge

The police say Mr Zilwa was arrested because he matched the description provided by an eyewitness.

Mr Zilwa says he was in the area when the bomb went off and stopped his car in front of the damaged building to ask a policeman what had happened.

He says he then raced back to his hotel to pick up his camera, before returning to take photographs.

He thought no more about the incident until police arrested him at the airport.

Mr Zilwa has still not been charged.

But his lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, says he fears his client may be used as a scapegoat, despite the fact that he has no political connections in Zimbabwe and had never even been to the country before now.

Mr Samkange says his client is being well-treated, although he is extremely worried about his situation.

The South African embassy has become involved and all eyes now are on the police, who can hold Mr Zilwa without charge for 48 hours before deciding what should happen to him next.

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22 Apr 00 | Africa
Bomb attack on Harare newspaper
19 Apr 00 | Business
Zimbabwe's economy under threat
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