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"Noroeste" newspaper threatened yet again

(CEPET/IFEX) - Barely 34 hours after an attack by armed assailants on the "Noroeste" newspaper building in Mazatlán, the newspaper has received a new threat from an unidentified caller demanding that it pay approximately US$15,000 in exchange for not "blowing up" its offices.

Directors at "Noroeste" said that at around 10:40 a.m. on 2 September 2010, a person called the offices and demanded that the newspaper pay the money by 3:00 p.m. that afternoon. The caller seemed to be the same person who had been behind the warning the newspaper received before the 1 September attack.

The director charged with handling the negotiations insisted on more time. The same unidentified caller called again at 11:15 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. to repeat the threats. He said he would call back at 2:00 p.m. that day, but he did not call. The caller also warned that the earlier attack was only a demonstration of the group's power. "So you see that we're not playing games," he said.

Earlier that day, journalists where threatened while they were driving in a car emblazoned with the newspaper's logo. Shortly after, members of the newspaper's distribution team were threatened by assailants with guns.

As a result of the threats, the newspaper is operating with a skeleton staff to put out the 3 September edition. In a front-page editorial on 2 September, "Noroeste" admitted that it has become very difficult to practice journalism professionally and responsibly under these conditions. Nonetheless, it refused to surrender in its duty to inform the public.

Federal and state authorities have been informed of the new threats.

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