- Senegalese police have arrested nine suspects who allegedly raided two independent newspapers in August using tear gas and grenades against journalists, Media Foundation for West Africa said.
Last month, offices of 24 Heures Chrono and L'As newpapers, were raided by unidentified men using a white Toyota L200, bearing official Senegalese government registration numbers, destroying equipment and attacking staff.
According to MFWA police arrested nine men who were allegedly involved in the attacks, three of whom were identified with the help of a staff member at "L'As" who was beaten up during the attack.
"Police have since revealed that some of the attackers had told them they were paid US$600 by Senegalese Transport Minister, Farba Senghor, to carry out the attack," said MFWA.
Minister Senghor's nephew is also believed to have been involved in the attack and is currently in police custody.
The newspaper accused Farba Senghor of being behind the raid on the office in a front page headline printed over a photo of the damaged office.
Mr Senghor accused L'As and 24 Heures Chrono and two other papers last month of a "relentless, orchestrated" campaign after a series of critical stories, some about his private life.
Tensions between president Abdoulaye Wade's Cabinet and independent media have escalated in recent months, after police beat two radio reporters at a soccer match and many media outlets backed protests to put the officers on trial.
Meanwhile police raided and sealed off 24 Heures Chrono offices and arrested El Malick Seck, the editor-in-chief.
MFWA said closure of the "24 Heures Chrono" and the subsequent arrest of its editor followed the lead story of the day linking president Abdoulaye Wade and his son, Abdul Karim Wade, to a case of money laundering.
MFWA has expressed its concern on the rate at which journalists of independent media houses are attacked in Senegal. "We view these actions as tantamount to undermining press freedom," MFWA said.
Critics accuse Mr Wade of stifling opposition and political debate and are suspicious of promotion of his son, Mr Karim, to influential unelected position in recruiting him be his successor after 2012.
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