The office of Nationwide News Network, one of the leading news entities in Jamaica, was attacked by gunmen on Friday afternoon.
The incident took place at Bradley Avenue in the Half-Way Tree area of St. Andrew around 4:30 PM, according to the radio station’s Deputy Executive Producer George Davis, who broke the news of the attack on air.
It was reported that a lone gunman rode up to the location on a motorcycle and fired several shots in the direction of the station’s parking lot. The motor vehicle was that closest to the gate of the premises was allegedly shot four times.
Several Nationwide employees were also in the parking lot at the time when shots were fired. No one was injured, but according to news reports, employees have been left traumatized by the incident.
The news entity has been at the center of political controversy recently, following damaging statements made by People’s National Party (PNP) General Secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell, over the last weekend.
Campbell referred to Nationwide News as “an incubator for the Jamaica Labour Party.”
Nationwide later responded in a letter to the PNP general secretary, refuting the claim and saying that by virtue of his words, he had declared an open season on its employees, “effectively giving PNP supporters free reign to see us as the enemy and treat us accordingly.”
Campbell’s statement was also condemned by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), which cited the statement as an attack on press freedom. PAJ had also warned that his comments may have put Nationwide staff at risk of attack from overzealous political activists.
The entity had requested that Campbell retract his statements, but he has yet to do so.
Condemnation from government officials
In the wake of the incident, several government and international officials have condemned the attack and called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), Robert Morgan, who has responsibility for information, said the shooting was “a sad day for journalism in Jamaica.
“The Government condemns this incident and expresses total support for the staff and shareholders of NNN,” Morgan wrote on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
“The Government will never support any attempt to threaten, intimidate or harm any member of the media,” he added.
The government of Jamaica described the incident as “abhorrent”, and stated that such an act “must never be seen in Jamaica again”.
“The Government condemns the shooting which is gravely serious and affects not only Nationwide News Network but all media. The Government restates its commitment and support to a free press which should not be intimidated in any way,” stated a press release from the Office of the Prime Minister.
PAJ also condemned the gun attack at the news agency stating that it was “reprehensible” and “cowardly.”
“We firmly believe that an independent and fearless press is the cornerstone of any democratic society. An attack on one news organisation is an attack on the collective freedom of the press, and it is an affront to the values of democracy and transparency,” said PAJ president Milton Walker.
Pedro Vaca Villarreal, the special rapporteur for freedom of expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, wrote via X: “I express my concern towards the information reported about an armed attack against the @NationwideRadio facilities this Friday. I call upon the authorities to protect journalists and to investigate the situation.”
PNP “astonished” by shooting
In a press release on Friday evening, the People’s National Party (PNP) said it was “astonished” by the shooting incident.
“We express our profound relief that there were no reported physical injuries during this incident and extend our heartfelt sympathies to the staff, operators of Nationwide, and affected businesses,” the Opposition party said.
“The alarmingly high levels of violence and crime in Jamaica are unacceptable and creates an environment of fear and insecurity for our people. The government bears the paramount responsibility for creating a safe and secure country for all Jamaicans. They must equip the JCF with all necessary resources to effectively prevent and control crime and violence,” they added.
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