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Bolivian radio presenter set on fire while on air

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The owner and editor of a radio station in Bolivia was set on fire on Monday (October 30) in a horrific attack by masked men in the South American country.

Fernando Vidal is in intensive care with severe burns to his head and arms after the four men burst into the studio, poured petrol over the 70-year-old and set him ablaze.

EuroNews reports that the attack occurred at Radio Popular in Yacuiba, close to the Argentine border, during a live interview about alleged corruption amongst customs police on Monday.

Vidal was interviewing two woman about alleged drug smuggling in the border region when the attackers struck.

According to IPI, listeners heard the entire incident and Vidal's subsequent cries for water live until the fire cut out the feed.

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Esteban Farfán, a Radio Popular journalist and Vidal's son-in-law, told reporters that Vidal had been critical of politicians in the Gran Chaco province on his show, and so he feels that the attack was politically motivated.

Vidal, a former mayor of Yacuiba, suffered second-degree burns to his arms and face, and is said to be in a serious but stable condition.

A heavily-bandaged Vidal told reporters: "I deeply thank the solidarity of all my friends, colleagues, co-workers and journalists and ask them to keep up the work of bringing forth the evidence and revealing the truth."

Authorities in Bolivia say they have now arrested three men in connection with the attack on Vidal.

In a press conference earlier in the week, Bolivian Communications Minister Amanda Dávila said that the government would conduct a "rigorous" search for the culprits.

"I express my absolute condemnation of this cowardly action against people who were doing their job," she said.

Dávila also confirmed that the government would not discount the possibility that the attack was the result of a "vendetta on the part of armed groups engaged in contraband trade".

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