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Media personnel attacked by armed individuals in Morelos

(ARTICLE 19/CENCOS/IFEX) - On 25 February 2011, armed individuals intercepted Oswald Alonso Navarro, a correspondent for the international news agency The Associated Press (AP), and Marco Antonio Vallejo Estrada, a publicist for the Radio Fórmula radio station, as they were driving on a street in Cuernavaca, in the central Mexican state of Morelos.

The assailants, who were traveling in a compact car, blocked the journalists' vehicle and threatened them with their weapons. When they were told to get out of their vehicle, Vallejo and Navarros refused to do so and were subsequently able to escape. However, their assailants followed and eventually caught up to them, at which point they shot Vallejo in his left leg.

A report about the incident was filed with the National Human Rights Commission and the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, both of which have been in contact with Morelos state officials and the Mexican Reporters' Network (Red Mexicana de Reporteros).

Journalists in Morelos have said the level of violence and difficulties encountered in carrying out their work have increased since December 2009, when narco-trafficker Arturo Beltrán Leyva was killed in a confrontation with navy personnel. They also said that several lists with journalists' names on them have been circulated. They have been unable to determine who has been behind the lists or what the objective of the lists is. Overall, they say they are working in a climate of generalised hostility.

A link between the 25 February attack and the work of Vallejo and Navarro has not been confirmed. However, Navarro's reporting has included coverage of safety issues in the region.

ARTICLE 19 and CENCOS urge the authorities to immediately implement effective protective measures for the journalists. The two organisations also call on the government of Mexico to respect, promote and protect the fundamental rights of the country's citizens, in particular the right to freedom of expression. Finally, ARTICLE and CENCOS call on the authorities to fully investigate the attack on Navarro and Vallejo, including the possibility that it was linked to their work.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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