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Newspaper facilities attacked in Coahuila

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - Mexico City, November 15, 2011 - A group of armed men attacked the facilities of "El Siglo de Torreón" in Coahuila state, early in the morning of 15 November. The perpetrators set a car on fire in front of the newspaper's office and fired at least 20 shots at the building. Nobody was hurt in the attack, although the property was damaged.

According to the newspaper's executives, the attack took place at approximately 2:40 am. At least three people and two vehicles were involved. The perpetrators parked a Volkswagon Bora on the sidewalk in front of the building's main entrance and then set it on fire. While fleeing the scene, the perpetrators fired several rounds from AK-47 rifles at the newspaper's offices.

At the time of the attack only the printing and distribution staff were present. Members of the army as well as municipal, state and federal police officers were called to the scene after the attack but they were unable to locate or arrest the perpetrators.

This incident marks the 10th attack on media facilities in Coahuila since 2009, and the second attack on "El Siglo de Torreón". On 18 August 2009, unidentified individuals fired shots at the building's main entrance; the attack was not investigated and the perpetrators have not been punished.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned by this new attempt to use intimidation to silence the press, and is also concerned by the complete failure of the state to adopt effective measures to guarantee freedom of expression in Coahuila and the neighboring state of Durango, which have become a recurring scene of murders and kidnappings of journalists and media attacks.

Principle 9 of the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) states that "the murder, kidnapping, intimidation, threats to social communicators, as well as the material destruction of communications media violate the fundamental rights of individuals and restrict freedom of expression. It is the duty of States to prevent and investigate such occurrences, to punish their perpetrators and to ensure that victims receive due compensation. "

Therefore, ARTICLE 19 reiterates its call to the Mexican state to fulfill its responsibilities under international human rights and take the necessary actions to ensure that the right to freedom of expression is respected.

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