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Journalist killed, colleague injured in gunfire attack

(CEPET/IFEX) - Luis Carlos Santiago Orozco, an "El Diario" photojournalist in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, was killed on 16 September 2010. He and his colleague were the target of a gunfire attack in the parking lot of a shopping mall, which left the second journalist in critical condition in hospital.

The incident took place around 2:30 p.m. at the Rio Grande mall. The journalists, who were working at the newspaper as part of a scholarship programme, were eating at one of the mall's restaurants only streets away from the paper's offices after spending the morning at a photography course.

Both were surprised by armed attackers while they were driving in a gray Nissan Platina in the mall's parking lot. Santiago Orozco, who was 21 and had been driving the vehicle, died at the scene. The other journalist, who is 18, made his way inside the mall where he was helped by security personnel and was taken to the hospital by Red Cross workers, where he received medical attention. At the time of this report, the journalist was said to be in critical condition after suffering four gunshot wounds.

According to "El Diario" reporters, the attackers fired at the journalist from a moving vehicle. Santiago Orozco was shot in the head and lost control of the vehicle, crashing into two other parked cars.

Federal police who arrived at the crime scene were able to obtain the photography equipment belonging to the injured journalist and Crime Scene Unit officers were going to use the contents of the memory card in their investigations.

Nine 9mm caliber bullets were found at the scene. As well, the car that Santiago Orozco was driving had been lent to him by the family of Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, who had worked for the State Human Rights Commission before he left the country after receiving a death threat. Santiago Orozco had kept in touch with de la Rosa Hickerson.

Accounts from other journalists said that the injured journalist had only been working for "El Diario" for two weeks and that he had mainly been working on stories about safety issues. Santiago Orozco was about to be made a full-time employee because of the "high quality of his work", said paper executives.

"It is outrageous that this is happening, and it is not only happening to journalists. More than 2,200 people have died this year and nothing has been done about it. The authorities aren't lifting a finger; this can't continue happening and there be no response," said the journalist who reported on the shooting.

In its editorial on 17 September, "El Diario" recalled the 2008 killing of their reporter, Armando Rodríguez, which has yet to be solved. "Until we know who attacked us and why, while they have complete freedom to continue these outrageous attacks in this fictitious 'state of law', while the administration of justice in this country, in this state, remains a pipe dream, there is really little that can be done other than to continue with our journalistic work completely defenseless."

CEPET believes that the state and federal authorities must urgently put into place the necessary measures to protect the safety of the injured journalist, as well as that of the rest of the "El Diario" staff. It also calls on authorities to investigate and prosecute those responsible for this crime, while preventing future attacks on the media.

(Please note this is an abridged translation).
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