Guerrilla army in Paraguay calls journalists "military targets"

The leader behind the guerrilla Paraguayan People's Army (EPP in Spanish), who is serving a prison sentence for kidnapping, told the newspaper La Nación in a tape-recorded interview that journalists would become military targets if they acted as "informants" for the government.

In the article published Sunday, Alcides Oviedo Brítez accused the press of "terrorizing the citizenry," warning that "we are at war," and there would be more deaths of police, journalists and civilians. While Oviedo is under judicial restrictions prohibiting him from giving interviews to the media, the newspaper La Nación managed to bring a tape recorder into the maximum security cell to conduct the interview.

On Monday, La Nación published a follow-up article with more from the interview with Oviedo, in which he defended the EPP, saying in fact it was the country's armed forces that were violent and torturers, adding that only the press thinks of police as "poor little angels."

Journalists in Paraguay say the situation with the EPP is very worrisome, as in the past week alone the EPP has set off two bombs and shot two police officers. The journalists are trying to get the help of international organizations to call on the Paraguayan government to protect journalists and guarantee their right to practice journalism.

Reuters explained that the EPP is an "extreme leftist" group responsible for kidnappings, murders, and attacks on military and police facilities throughout the past decade. The group also is blamed for the kidnapping and killing of the daughter of an ex-president.

The Minister of the Interior, Carlos Filizzola, guaranteed on Tuesday that the armed forces and the police will work together in the northeastern part of the country, on the border with Brazil, to fight the EPP and capture its members, reported ABC Color. Meanwhile, the Senate already has approved a state of emergency for the departments of San Pedro and Concepción, and the lower chamber is considering the measure, another ABC Color story said.