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Another grenade attack on "Cambio Sonora" newspaper in Hermosillo

(CENCOS/IFEX) - A fragmentation grenade exploded at the facilities of "Cambio Sonora" newspaper in the city of Hermosillo, Sonora state, at 3:35 p.m. (local time) on 16 May 2007, causing material damage but no injuries. "Cambio Sonora" is part of the Grupo Organización Editorial Mexicana (OEM) media group, which has 70 daily newspapers, 24 radio stations, one television station and 43 Internet websites in Mexico. Carlos Licona, a reporter with the newspaper, noted that this attack happened almost exactly one month after a similar one on 17 April.

The newspaper's news chief, Beatriz Espinosa Sotelo, said that the grenade exploded in the parking lot of the newspaper, located in the Centro neighbourhood of Hermosillo, located in northern Mexico. Since the newspaper's staff were inside the building at the time, no one was injured, although the explosion damaged three vehicles and the building's structure, as well as leaving shrapnel widely scattered, some of which penetrated both the entrance door and through the double layers of sheet metal of the guardhouse.

Espinoza Sotelo added that in the 17 April attack, a grenade was thrown into the yard located at the front of the newspaper's building. Although no one was injured in that incident either, it too damaged the building's structure.

Licona said that the incident is an attack on freedom of expression, but that the staff do not know the motive for it. Espinosa Sotelo said that the newspaper has not received threats nor been the target of any other acts of aggression, prior to these two.

Although some media outlets reported that the newspaper has been being guarded by local officers from the state investigative police (Policía Estatal Investigadora, PEI), the federal investigation agency (Agencia Federal de Investigación, AFI) and the Mexican army, as well as by the Sonora state's attorney general's office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE), the guard services were only initiated after the second attack. Espinosa Sotelo further mentioned that the guarding consists simply of the police sporadically passing by the building. She added that after the April attack the government promised to place a guard unit on constant duty outside the building, but there is currently no such special guard. Espinoza Sotelo expects that the newspaper itself will reinforce security measures by placing video cameras outside the building.

She noted that Congress and other government bodies have been contacted by citizens and journalists' groups about the current wave of violence and other kinds of aggression directed against media, of which "Cambio Sonora" has not been the only victim. She observed that one journalist from Sonora state has disappeared and another was murdered. She has asked both Sonora state and federal authorities to take action to ensure the safety of both journalists and ordinary citizens, as well as address the impunity in which crimes against them so far remain.

CENCOS is concerned by this attack and asks the authorities to take measures to ensure that journalists and media outlets can carry out their work.

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