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Journalist killed in Tamaulipas during stand-off between army and drug traffickers

(CEPET/IFEX) - Carlos Alberto Guajardo, a reporter with "Expreso" newspaper, was shot to death on 5 November 2010 in Matamoros, Tamaulipas (northeastern Mexico).

The journalist was killed near the beginning of an eight-hour shootout involving the army, the navy and gunmen working for the Gulf drug cartel. The violence finally ended around 17:35, after the death of Antonio Ezequiel Cárdenas Guillén, head of the cartel, and four of his personal bodyguards.

At around 11:30 am, Guajardo was travelling in a Ford pickup, with Texas licence plates. He was on his way to report on the shootings in the Mariano Matamoros neighbourhood, and to gather information on blockades that some of the criminals had reportedly set up in the area.

According to the National Defense Secretariat, the journalist was shot and died in his pickup while the military was trying to fight off an attack from a group of people who were travelling in eight vehicles. The Secretariat did not specify if Guajardo was caught in the crossfire or was directly targeted. "Expreso" reported that a number of bullet shells were found around the pickup, while other media outlets said that at least 20 shots were fired at the vehicle.

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has taken up the case to monitor the ongoing investigations into the journalist's death.

In a front-page editorial, "Expreso" demanded a speedy and effective response from the authorities. The paper noted that in the last eight months, all three levels of government operating in northeastern Mexico have been so beaten down and overwhelmed that they have been unable to fulfill their basic functions."

CEPET notes that most of the local newspapers limited their reporting on the shootout and the murder of the Gulf cartel's kingpin. The papers briefly mentioned the incidents in their 6 November editions, (in most cases reprinting stories that had appeared in the national media), and burying the news in a back section rather than highlighting the information on their front page.
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