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Watch: Daphne Caruana Galizia killed in Bidnija car blast

Explosion reported at around 3pm

Debris from the blast was left strewn across the road. Video: Mark Zammit Cordina

Updated 5.45pm

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was killed this afternoon in a car blast that left her vehicle in several pieces in Bidnija. 

The powerful explosion on Triq il-Bidnija was reported to police shortly after 3pm. It is not yet clear what caused the explosion, which sources said was an extremely powerful one with debris from the car, a Peugeot 108, strewn across the road and in a nearby field. 

Police at the scene said the driver's body was blasted out of the car and into a nearby field. In a statement released at 4.40pm, they said that the victim had yet to be identified. 

READ: Caruana Galizia... Malta's most controversial journalist

TVM have reported that Ms Caruana Galizia filed a police report 15 days ago saying she was being threatened. 

Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (left) and firefighters surveying the car wreck in Bidnija this afternoon (right).Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (left) and firefighters surveying the car wreck in Bidnija this afternoon (right).

Ms Caruana Galizia lived in Bidnija, a short distance from where the blast happened. According to sources, one of her sons heard the blast from their home and rushed out to see what had happened. 

Forensics teams, Civil Protection Department firefighters,  explosive ordnance disposal experts and several police investigators are sweeping the scene. Duty magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera is also at the site. 

Nationalist Party leader Adrian Delia has called a press conference for 5.30pm. A vigil is to be held this evening at 8.30pm in Sliema. 

Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina

'I will not rest before justice is done' - Joseph Muscat

Dr Muscat condemned the "barbaric attack", which he said had left him shocked. 

He said that although the victim had yet to be identified, initial indications were that it was Ms Caruana Galizia's. 

"Everyone knows Ms Caruana Galizia was a harsh critic of mine, both politically and personally, but nobody can justify this barbaric act in any way," he said. 

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat speaking about the attack. Video: Matthew MirabelliPrime Minister Joseph Muscat speaking about the attack. Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Dr Muscat said he had asked police to reach out to other countries' security services to try and root out the perpetrators. 

"I will not rest before justice is done."

He called for national unity, saying "everyone has the right to write and say what they want in this country."

President appeals for solidarity 

In a brief statement, President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca expressed solidarity with Ms Caruana Galizia's sons and husband. 

"In these moments, when the country is shocked by such a vicious attack, I call on everyone to measure their words, to not pass judgement and to show solidarity," she said. 

 

Malta 'has lost a brave voice' - Archbishop

Archbishop Charles Scicluna said the country had lost a "brave voice" who was "one of the best investigative journalists in Malta.”

Calling for bravery and strength in the face of this attack, the Archbishop insisted that being intimidated by this attack would ultimately give in to the murderers’ wishes.

Archbishop Sultana phoned in on RTK to offer his condolences, saying that his aim was not to canonise blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia.

She sought to speak the truth, not to be sanctified, the Archbishop said.

He insisted that politicians need to continue to be held accountable and that this attack is ultimately an attack on the common good.

Journalist lobby expresses shock

In a statement, the Institute of Maltese Journalists said this was a dark day for democracy in Malta and urged police to bring perpetrators to justice. 

It urged journalists to not be cowed by the attack and to continue to report on all that was in the public interest "without fear or favour". 

NGOs call for independent inquiry

A group of NGOs including the Malta Gay Rights Movement, aditus foundation, Integra Foundation, The Critical Institute and Platform for Human Rights Organisations in Malta expressed their concern "at the threat to freedom of speech that [Ms Caruana Galizia's] violent murder poses."

The NGOs called for an independent inquiry to look into whether police "took the requisite measures" to protect her and whether her violent demise could have been avoided. Ms Caruana Galizia had filed a report about being threatened two weeks ago. 

Reports of Ms Caruana Galizia's unconfirmed death quickly spread across social media, with politicians, journalists and social commentators quick to condemn the violence. 

Archbishop Charles Scicluna called for "unified resolve to promote true democracy" as he expressed shock and sadness.

Photo: Ivan MartinPhoto: Ivan Martin
Photo: Mark Zammit CordinaPhoto: Mark Zammit Cordina
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