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Drug cartels terrorise media with car bombs and grenades

A car bomb exploded outside the offices of Mexico's largest media organisation, Televisa, on 27 August, days after it reported that 72 Central and South American migrants were killed by drug traffickers in the same region, report the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX members. Two weeks ago, explosives ripped through facilities owned by the same media conglomerate in Tamaulipas and Nuevo León states.

As the area suffers from drug cartels fighting for control, Televisa has been targeted for the third time in two weeks. The recent blast happened at its headquarters in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas state, causing an electricity outage. It knocked out Televisa's transmission as well as that of Multimedios's Canal 7 channel, located a few streets away. Televisa was one of the few media outlets to cover the massacre of migrants, after a grave with 72 bodies was discovered.

A week after thousands of journalists marched through Mexico City to protest against the violence, intimidation and harassment they face, hand grenades were thrown at Televisa buildings in Monterrey, Nuevo León, and in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, on 14 and 15 August. The assailants are believed to be members of the Los Zetas cartel. Tamaulipas, bordering Texas, is where the largest number of clashes between rival drug trafficking groups occurs. Televisa's Canal 57 station in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, was targeted with explosives on 30 July. Last year, its offices in Monterrey were attacked on 6 January.

"No journalist is safe in Mexico when criminal groups feel free to wage grenade attacks on a national broadcaster," said the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ). "Drug traffickers are increasingly terrorising the press and defining what is news and what isn't."

In January 2009, five masked gunmen fired high-calibre weapons and tossed a grenade outside Televisa studios; six cars and the station's front door were damaged, reports CPJ.

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