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Grenade attack targets Guadalajara newspaper

April 18, 2013

The latest attack on the Mexican press came in the early hours of Wednesday morning when two explosive devices were thrown at the Guadalajara offices of local Spanish-language daily Mural.

No one was hurt in the attack, which occurred at around 3.30 a.m. and caused only minor damage to the exterior of the property. It was not reported until 6.30 a.m., when security guards noticed the damage.

Local authorities said one of the blasts was caused by a fragmentation grenade and the other by a small homemade explosive device. The first device exploded in the parking lot on Avenida Lopez Mateos and seconds later the second hit the building’s main entrance on Avenida Mariano Otero, leaving a hole in the door about two centimeters deep.

Mural posted footage from surveillance cameras on its website, showing an assailant running up to the building and throwing a device that explodes against the wall. No arrests have been made and the motive for the attack has yet to be determined.

Governor Aristoteles Sandoval told Mural that the Prosecutor General’s office is following several lines of investigation. Sandoval promised that his government would defend freedom of expression and would not allow criminals to intimidate the press.

Mural, which is part of the Reforma Group, said this was the first attack against it since its foundation 14 years ago. However, other Reforma newspapers have been targeted, such as El Norte de Monterrey, which has been attacked six times since 2010.

Drug gangs frequently seek to exert pressure on the press and Mexico is now considered one of world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with the National Human Rights Commission (CDNH) reporting in December that 82 journalists have been murdered and 18 others have been reported missing since 2005.

The Siglo de Torreon newspaper in Coahuila has been the worst hit this year, suffering three separate attacks in February alone. On February 8, five workers were kidnapped but  later released, while on February 25 a group of armed men attacked federal agents who were guarding the newspaper’s offices. A third, fatal attack occurred two days later when assailants opened fire on the building, leaving one worker dead and two more injured.

Elsewhere, the director of a digital journal in the border town of Ojinaga, Chihuahua was shot 18 times at a taco stand where he had stopped on his way to work on March 3. Three days later, the offices of Chihuahua’s Diaro de Juarez and Canal 44 were also attacked.

Most recently, several journalists in Veracruz have complained of threats against them. Mexican weekly Proceso alleged this week that Jorge Carrasco, one of its reporters in Veracruz, is the victim of an intimidation campaign by elements of the state government. Carrasco believes he is being targeted because he wrote extensively about the death of his colleague Regina Martinez, who Proceso argue may have been killed last year as a result of criticizing Veracruz officials.

Also in Veracruz, CNN Mexico reported last month that a female reporter has been living in the offices of Notiver newspaper for the last three years since suffering three acts of aggression against herself and her family.

Amnesty International condemns attack

In response to the attack on Mural’s Guadalajara offices, Amnesty International released a statement affirming that such actions “are intended to intimidate and influence media coverage.” Amnesty called on the authorities “to ensure that effective and impartial investigations are conducted, that the results of these investigations are made public and that those responsible for this aggression are held accountable.”

Amnesty also called on state and federal authorities to ensure that journalists can work in safety, without fear of reprisals. Noting that Mexico passed a law to protect journalists and human rights observers last year, Amnesty urged any states that have not yet taken action to implement the law to do so without delay.

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