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Editor Of Zimbabwe News Agency Listed Critical After Johannesburg Shooting

Editor Abel Mutsakani of ZimOnline, a South African-based Internet news agency that covers Zimbabwe, was said to be in critical but stable condition in a Johannesburg hospital following his shooting earlier this week outside his home in that city.

It was not immediately clear if there was a political motive in the shooting, or if it was one of the random violent crimes that have become so common in Johannesburg and other South African cities. Some 19,000 murders were reported in South Africa between April 2004 and March 2005, according to government statistics.

Mutsakani was formerly managing editor of Harare's Daily News paper, which along with the Daily News on Sunday was shut down by the government in 2003.

Medical reports said a bullet was lodged near Mutsakani's heart and that doctors said his condition was too delicate for it to be removed immediately. He underwent an operation on Wednesday to repair damage to nerves in his left arm.

Officers at the Honey Dew police station in Johannesburg could not be reached for comment on the shooting or its motivation. But ZimOnline said no arrests have been made so far, and police have opened an attempted murder docket in the case.

Some South African-based Zimbabwean journalists expressed suspicions that there might be a political dimension to the incident because the three men who attacked Mutsakani and then fled the scene did not take any of his possessions.

Mutsakani had just parked his car outside his home when the shooting occurred.

ZimOnline Deputy Editor Abel Chapatarongo told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that Mutsakani had not been threatened nor were there any indications the editor was being trailed prior to Monday's shooting.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...