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Human rights defenders killed on mission; journalists attacked

A convoy of more than 40 international and local human rights defenders, activists and journalists were ambushed by gunmen in Mexico on 27 April in the town of San Juan Copala, Oaxaca state, report the National Center for Social Communication (CENCOS), ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Two rights defenders were killed.

The group was taking supplies and international observers into the embattled Triqui region which has been insecure due to political conflicts since 2007, after the Triqui people declared the area of San Juan Copala to be an autonomous municipality. Paramilitary groups in support of the Oaxaca authorities operate in the area, and as a result, the village has been deprived of water, electricity, schools and medicine.

Several organisations that participated in the convoy blamed the attack on a paramilitary group linked to the party that controls the Oaxaca state government, reports RSF. According to CPJ, the convoy included members of an anti-government movement that seized control of the state capital for several months in 2006.

Activists Jyri Antero Jaakkola, a Finnish citizen, and Mexican Beatriz Alberta Carino Trujillo died from gunshot wounds.

Journalists travelling with the group, Erika Ramirez and David Cilia García, intended to investigate the previous killings of community radio journalists Felicitas Martínez Sánchez and Teresa Bautista Merino, who were killed in 2008. They worked for the Triqui community radio station, "The voice that breaks the silence," in San Juan Copala.

When the convoy came under fire, the group scattered and the two journalists ran into the surrounding mountains; they were found weak and injured two days later, says RSF. Another journalist also survived. Many others were wounded.

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