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Journalist escapes unharmed from assassination attempt

(FLIP/IFEX) - On 30 August 2010, journalist Marco Tulio Valencia, the editor of the "El Norte" newspaper in Mariquita, Tolima department, in southern Colombia, was the target of an assassination attempt when an unidentified individual shot at him five times. Valencia managed to escape unharmed.

The incident took place at approximately 9:30 p.m. as the journalist was returning to his home. Valencia's assailant approached on a motorcycle and fired two shots when he was not yet close enough to achieve his purpose. At that point the motorcycle stopped running, giving Valencia just enough time to open the door to his house while his assailant tried to restart the vehicle. The man then fired three more shots at Valencia, who threw himself to the ground and managed to enter his home. The journalist's assailant fled before the police arrived.

Valencia had been receiving threats. On 22 June, he received several threatening telephone calls and messages. Then, in the first week of August, he was approached in the street by two individuals who fired several shots into the air in an attempt to intimidate him.

Valencia told FLIP that his newspaper has reported on small-scale drug trafficking networks in Mariquita and that he believes the assassination attempt and threats could be linked to those reports.

The head of the Tolima Police force, Colonel José Javier Herrera, told FLIP that the assassination attempt is under investigation.

FLIP condemns the attack on Valencia and called on the Interior Ministry and the police and other local and departmental authorities to provide protection to Valencia. In addition, FLIP calls on the National Attorney General's Office to investigate and find those responsible for the attack.

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