Palestinian News Agency Offices Set on Fire in Suspected Arson

Maan News Agency editor-in-chief Nasser Laham decries firebomb attack as assault on 'freedom of press in Palestine'.

Palestinian Maan News Agency says a firebomb was hurled at its Gaza City newsroom Sunday morning, setting off a small fire at the entrance to its offices.

There was no damage to the interior of the office and no one has thus far claimed responsibility for the blaze.

Maan editor-in-chief Nasser Laham decried the suspected arson as an assault on "freedom of the press in Palestine."

The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate called it "an attempt to silence the free press" and urged authorities to investigate the blaze.

Maan News Agency (MNA) was launched in 2005 and publishes online news in both Arabic and English. Its main offices are in Bethlehem and its sub-office is in Gaza City. It is part of the Maan Network, a non-profit media organization founded in 2002.

In addition to its website, the Maan network includes television, video and radio production, as well as training courses for Palestinian journalists and media personnel.

MNA focuses on Palestinian political, economic, cultural, and sports news from the West Bank and Gaza, as well as certain developments in Israel.

Critics of the Palestinian news source accuse it of being too sympathetic to the Palestinian Authority that is based in the West Bank.

Several months ago an explosive device was planted in front of the Gaza City office. Police in Hamas-ruled Gaza have investigated that attack, but nothing has emerged.