POLICE in Bulawayo have launched investigations after suspected arsonists tried to set fire the offices of the local Chronicle and Sunday News early Sunday morning.
The attackers reportedly hurled a flammable liquid at a disused wooden door leading to the newspapers' advertising department and set it on fire before fleeing into the night.
Security personnel however managed to stop the fire before it engulfed the building.
"I was alerted by fellow colleagues who smelt smoke from within the building during a patrol," said Sanele Nyanga, a security guard.
"Initially we thought it was an electrical fault and we checked around the building and other offices until we noticed that smoke was coming from the advertising department.
"We had to call the fire brigade who arrived at the scene quickly but we had already put out the fire. We then discovered a plastic container that had petrol and two used match sticks at the scene."
Bulawayo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Mandlenkosi Moyo confirmed the incident adding there had also been an attempt to fire-bomb a transport depot belonging to Transport Minister Obert Mpofu.
"I can confirm that we have received a report of arson at Chronicle offices and the matter is under investigation. We are appealing to the public to assist us with any information that may lead to arrests," said Inspector Moyo.
"Another report shows that three men attempted to petrol bomb a fuel station in Belmont but fled after being spotted by an alert security officer."
Zimpapers Bulawayo general manager, Marks Shayamano, condemned the attack.
"That's barbaric! For one to try and destroy an organisation that is the voice of the community. We do not know the motive behind this act because fire started from outside," he said.
"It appears some flammable liquid was used because the entire door was damaged but because it was hardwood fire could not spread inside. If that was meant to scare us, we will continue reporting the truth."