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Originally published Friday, April 12, 2013 at 8:43 PM

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Sri Lankan Tamil newspaper burnt down

Armed men stormed a newspaper press in Sri Lanka's former war zone early Saturday and set fire to machines and newspapers ready for distribution in a second attack on the paper in two weeks, the publisher said.

The Associated Press

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COLOMBO, Sri Lanka —

Armed men stormed a newspaper press in Sri Lanka's former war zone early Saturday and set fire to machines and newspapers ready for distribution in a second attack on the paper in two weeks, the publisher said.

E. Saravanapavan said three men with guns entered the press of his Uthayan newspaper in northern Jaffna town threatened and chased away the workers and delivery men. Later they shot at the control board and set fire to the machines, newspapers and the newsprint.

Attacks on media offices and workers have become increasingly common in Sri Lanka since the country's civil war ended nearly four years ago, with reporters from minority groups and the majority Sinhala targeted.

Saravanapavan said the military or a paramilitary supporting the government could be behind the attack because the paper had recently reported extensively on the military taking over private land in northern Sri Lanka, a center of the war and populated mostly by Tamils.

Military spokesman Brig. Ruwan Wanigasooriya said the allegation is baseless, adding the army will cooperate with a police investigation.

Earlier this month a group attacked a regional office of the same newspaper in the town of Kilinochchi, a former headquarters of the Tamil Tiger rebels who fought a quarter-century civil war to create an independent state for ethnic minority Tamils. The Sri Lankan military defeated the rebel group in 2009, killing all its commanders.

The newspaper has supported self-rule for Tamils and its staff has repeatedly faced threats and violence, the most serious in 2006 when gunmen stormed its offices and killed two staffers.

In January, a man delivering the newspaper in Jaffna was attacked and his motorbike was set on fire.

Reporters in the capital Colombo have also been targets. A journalist for the independent Sunday Leader newspaper, which was critical of the government, was shot and seriously wounded in February. The editor of the newspaper was killed four years ago, one of at least 14 journalists who Amnesty International says have been killed on the Indian Ocean island since the beginning of 2006.

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