Fernando Vidal Attacked, Lit on Fire During On-Air Interview

A 78-year-old Bolivian radio host was the victim of a heinous on-air attack that left him covered in burns. Police have arrested three of the four men responsible for the attack.

Fernando Vidal was broadcasting live when four masked men broke into his studio, poured petrol over him and set him on fire. Vidal, a popular reporter, had recently been discussing the increase of smuggling in the area when the attack occurred. Authorities are suspicious that his reports may have had something to do with the attack.

Vidal also criticized the government while on the radio, leading to another possible motivation for the crime. Authorities have already taken three men into custody and said they will be conducting "an accelerated and rigorous investigation."

Vidal's son-in-law told reporters he suffered burns to the face, arms, and chest and is still being treated for his injuries. Esteban Farfan, the son-in-law, added that Vidal was in the middle of an interview concerning alleged police corruption when the attack occurred.

"One splashed around gasoline, the other set it alight, and a third fired shots in the air. He said Vidal was burned trying to intervene," the Associated Press reported Farfan as saying.

"This chilling attack is one of the worst instances of violence against journalists in Bolivia in recent years," Javier Zuniga, a Special Adviser, told Amnesty International. "The Bolivian authorities' investigation into the incident must be independent and impartial, and those responsible must be brought to justice without delay."

"The recent Plurinational Constitutional Court decision to strike contempt from the country's Criminal Code is a positive step, but yesterday's attack show that freedom of expression-including freedom of the press-remains under attack in Bolivia," Zuniga added.

Many have expressed their sympathy for Vidal. "Criminal corruption hates exposure of any kind. Best wishes for a speedy recovery to all those injured and long stays behind bars to the perps," posted Yahoo! reader Sam.