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Three journalists killed in two separate attacks

Three journalists have been killed in Mexico, including a husband and wife who were brazenly shot in an Internet cafe, and an editor known for his crime reporting in a different state, according to local and international IFEX members. The deaths followed three separate incidents in Coahuila state in which gunmen riddled the buildings of two media outlets with bullets and fired a grenade at another.

Husband and wife, Juan Francisco Rodríguez Ríos and María Elvira Hernández Galeana, were killed on 28 June in the village of Coyuca de Benítez near Acapulco, report the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), International Press Institute (IPI), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

They were in the Internet café they owned when two gunmen stormed in and fired several bullets into their bodies at close range. While the state prosecutor's office pointed to robbery as the likely motive, local journalists said the cybercafé is an unlikely target for thieves as there wouldn't have been much cash in the register, report CPJ.

Rodríguez Ríos was the president of the National Union of Press Reporters' local in Guerrero state and had recently complained about threats to freedom of expression at an annual convention for Guerrero journalists. He also wrote for "El Sol de Acapulco" and "Diario Objetivo de Chilpancingo." Hernández Galeana worked for a weekly newspaper "Semanario Nueva Línea," for which she occasionally covered local politics.

Then, on 7 July, the body of editor Hugo Alfredo Olivera Cartera was found in his truck in a rural area of Michoacán state, report the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) and CPJ. The exact motive for Olivera's killing is unknown but CPJ says unidentified individuals broke into the offices of the newspaper owned and edited by Olivera, "El Día de Michoacán," shortly after the reporter was found dead. The individuals took computer hard drives and flash drives.

The 27-year-old Olivera also fearlessly covered organised crime for other media outlets, including the Morelia-based newspaper "La Voz" and reported for the news agency Quadratín.

In February, Olivera was beaten up by federal police as he tried to cover a story. He filed a complaint with the National Commission of Human Rights, according to CPJ.

IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre was on a mission to Mexico City to document violence and threats ahead of the 4 July elections for governorship in a dozen Mexican states when the 28 June killing occurred. He said the murders of journalists are "not only costing journalists' lives but creating a culture of fear and infringing on people's right to information." He issued a public call on the special prosecutor to immediately investigate the killings and disappearances of journalists in Mexico.

Last month there were also two separate attacks on media outlets in Torreón, Coahuila state, according to CEPET and other IFEX members. Both attacks occurred in broad daylight and involved a group of armed individuals who fired from outside of the buildings, shattering the glass. The office of daily "Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna" was targeted on 22 June and the attack on "Televisa Laguna" broadcast news station occurred a few days later. A pregnant receptionist at the newspaper office was wounded by shards; fortunately.

In mid-June, according to CEPET, a grenade was fired at the offices of "Zócalo" newspaper in Piedras Negras, Coahuila state. No one was injured although the building and nearby cars were damaged.

Highlighting a climate of fear and self censorship, "Noticias de El Sol de la Laguna" decided to stop covering crime altogether after a reporter was threatened on 20 May.

Dozens of journalists have been murdered in the last decade in Mexico. Eleven remain missing, according to RSF.

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