Three killed in raid on Syria's Ikhbariya TV station


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The Independent Online

Gunmen have attacked the headquarters of a pro-Syrian government TV station, killing three employees, it was reported.

Syrian state agency Sana said the attack on Ikhbariya TV in the town of Drousha, about 14 miles south of the capital Damascus, occurred early today.

An employee at the station said that the gunmen stormed two of the station's buildings, detained some of the guards then blew up parts of it with explosives.

The employee, who did not give his name for fear of repercussions, said the gunmen blindfolded him then drove him away about 200 metres where he heard the explosion.

"I was terrified," the man said by telephone.

Ikhbariya is privately-owned but strongly supports President Bashar Assad's regime.

The building was largely demolished in the attack, but hours later the station was still on air broadcasting programmes.

Pro-government journalists have been targeted on several occasions during the 15-month uprising against Assad's regime, although such incidents are comparatively rare.

Earlier this month, two Ikhbariya employees were shot and seriously wounded by gunmen in the north-western town of Haffa while covering clashes between government troops and insurgents.

Rebels deny they target the media. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the raid and the deaths of several employees, but had no other information.

Information minister Omran al-Zoebi told reporters outside the station that gunmen stormed the compound, placed explosives and then detonated them.

"What happened today is a massacre, a massacre against the freedom of the press," he state-run TV. "They carried out a terrifying massacre by executing the employees."

An employee at the station said several employees were wounded in the attack and other guards were kidnapped.