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Arson aimed at UCLA scientist

November 29, 2008|Andrew Blankstein | Blankstein is a Times staff writer.

Animal rights activists destroyed one vehicle and badly damaged two others in a Palms-area arson attack last week, authorities said.

The incident occurred Nov. 20 and appears to be part of a botched attempt to target a UCLA animal researcher, authorities said.

Activists with the group Students and Workers for the Liberation of UCLA Primates claimed responsibility for the attack, stating on an animal rights website that the destroyed car belonged to Goran Lacan, a UCLA "vivisector."

But on Friday, Los Angeles Police Department investigators said none of the cars belonged to Lacan. The attackers, they said, targeted the wrong home and doused the wrong car with fuel before setting it on fire.

Anti-animal research extremists have increasingly targeted UCLA faculty and researchers with harassment. Past actions include firebombing a UCLA commuter van, flooding a UCLA scientist's home and placing a firebomb in the home of a UCLA researcher's neighbor.

The Nov. 20 incident is being investigated by the FBI, the LAPD and the UCLA police.

At UCLA, Chancellor Gene Block released a statement condemning the acts. "They are willing not only to risk the lives of those who spend their careers working to help others, but also the lives of the unsuspecting general public, including children," Block said.

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andrew.blankstein @latimes.com

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