Journalist killed in car bombing

A car bomb has killed Ivo Pukanic, a prominent Croatian journalist, and a colleague in central Zagreb, and the country’s president and premier called it an assassination.

State-run Croatian TV showed footage of Pukanic’s burned-out Lexus and two covered bodies outside his NCL Media Group office in the capital, and police identified the victims as Pukanic and his group’s marketing director, Niko Franjic.

Krunoslav Borovec, a senior national police official, said a hidden explosive device had destroyed Pukanic’s car and that an investigation has been launched to determine who had killed the two men.

Six months ago, Pukanic, 47, said that someone had tried to kill him in front of his house in downtown Zagreb, showing police what he described as a bullet hole in a nearby shop window.

Police provided him with protection afterward, but ended that in August at his request, Interior Minister Tomislav Karamarko said.

Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said his government condemned the “assassination” of Pukanic, the owner and editor-in-chief of Nacional, the number two political weekly in Croatia.

Pukanic’s media house also publishes several other newspapers.

“Is it mafia or terrorism, that’s early to say,” he said. “But we are witnessing something bigger” than a common crime, Sanader said.

President Stipe Mesic also swiftly condemned the killing.

“By tonight’s assassination, terrorism came to the streets of Zagreb,”

Mesic said in a statement, adding: “It is now a choice between us – the state of law – and them: criminals, terrorists, mafia.”

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