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TV network studios target of grenade attack

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders hopes for quick results from the investigation into a 6 January 2009 armed attack in Monterrey (in the northeastern state of Nuevo León), in which gunmen threw a grenade and opened fire on the regional studios of the privately-owned national TV network Televisa and left a message criticising media coverage of drug trafficking. The national Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) is leading the investigation.

"Fortunately there were no victims, but this attack shows that organised crime is targeting national as well as local media," Reporters Without Borders said. "Solving this attack will be a new test for the government, which wants to make it a federal crime to use violence against the press."

The press freedom organisation added: "The reference in the gunmen's message to government involvement in drug trafficking should obviously be treated with prudence, but should encourage the authorities to monitor what goes on in their own ranks. We hail the measures taken to protect the Televisa building and the two other national networks in Monterrey, TV Azteca and Multimedios."

The attack was carried out by masked men in two pickup trucks. Televisa's management said at least 12 bullet impact sites were found in the building's entrance while the grenade damaged a workshop used by cameramen. No one was injured, but a journalist, Karina Garza Ochoa, received treatment for shock

The hand-written message left by the gunmen said: "Stop reporting only about us, also report about the 'narco-officials'".

Troops and members of the Federal Preventive Police (PFP) immediately set up a security cordon around the Televisa building and the Monterrey headquarters of TV Azteca Noroeste and Multimedios, while the PGR took charge of the investigation. The Nuevo León Attorney General's Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia del Estado, PGJE) said it was the first armed attack on a news organisation in the state.

However, it was not the first time journalists have been the target of violence in Nuevo León. The disappearance of TV Azteca Noroeste reporter Gamaliel López and cameraman Gerardo Paredes on 10 May 2007 in Monterrey has never been solved.

With respect to attacks on the Televisa network, Amado Ramírez, the network's correspondent in Acapulco (in the southern state of Guerrero), was murdered on 6 April 2007, after the start of a federal offensive against organised crime. The investigation into Ramírez's murder has been marred by many irregularities.

For further information on the López and Paredes case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/99224

For further information on the Ramírez case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94561

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