New York — An investigative journalist in Cameroon told CPJ today that his car had been destroyed in an explosion early this morning. Denis Nkwebo said the car was parked outside his house in the commercial capital of Douala, and that no one was hurt in the explosion.
Nkwebo, an editor of the leading private daily Le Jour, told CPJ that acquaintances and his contacts within the government had warned him to be careful in his investigation and coverage of Cameroonian security forces.
In an April 15 article, Nkwebo said security forces were struggling to stem a spate of kidnappings and armed attacks in the regions bordering unstable Nigeria and the strife-torn Central African Republic.
On Monday, Lieutenant-Colonel Didier Badjeck, a spokesman for the Cameroonian Defense Ministry, issued a statement rejecting Nkwebo's allegations about the military and urging the media not to "cultivate a climate of hysteria among the population," according to local news reports.
Nkwebo said he had reported the attack to the police who said they were investigating. Cameroonian Communications Minister Issa Tchiroma Bakary did not immediately return CPJ's calls seeking comment.
"We are alarmed by the explosion at the home of Denis Nkwebo, who had been reporting on a sensitive issue of public interest: the performance of Cameroon's security forces," said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. "We call on authorities to carry out an efficient, thorough, and transparent investigation into this attack and hold those responsible to account."
Nkwebo is also a correspondent of Radio France Internationale's English-language service in Cameroon, the vice president of the National Syndicate of Cameroonian Journalists, and a member of the global Investigative Reporters and Editors nonprofit organization.