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Two journalists in firing line as gunmen take aim at Colombian peasant community

The Colombian journalist Deisy Rodriguez Lagos and the Italian documentary maker Bruno Federico had a narrow escape when a gunman opened fire as they were covering an operation to expel peasants two days ago (3 December 2013) in Pitalito in the Chimichagua district of the northern department of Cesar.

“In South America, landowners and their henchmen frequently behave as predators of freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We call on the authorities to get to the bottom of this terrifying event and punish those behind it.

“Journalists covering population displacements and land restitution are at risk, made more serious by the impunity surrounding such matters.”

Rodriguez and Federico were working on a documentary on the National Movement of Victims of State Crimes (MOVICE) when “two men stopped and fired at us from 30 metres away, then fled,” Rodriguez told Reporters Without Borders. "The peasants who were showing us their land were also targeted in the attack," added Bruno Federico.

The two journalists noted that the attack took place just after they had been filming vegetable plots in the area from which the peasants had been expelled. The gunmen were identified by residents as being in the pay of Juan Manuel Fernandez de Castro, a powerful palm-oil mogul regarded as responsible for the expulsion of the Pitalito families.

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