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Radio journalist shot on U.S.-Mexico border

Reuters | April 6, 2005

MEXICO CITY - A radio reporter in Nuevo Laredo on Mexico's border with Texas was in serious condition after being shot several times by an unknown gunman, the latest journalist to be attacked along the border in recent months.

Guadalupe Garcia Escamilla, 39, was hit by nine bullets as she arrived at Radio Stereo 91 to do her regular show on crime and public safety, according to the prosecutor's office in the Tamaulipas border state.

Officials were investigating whether the attack was motivated by her work, Miguel Chavez, spokesman for the prosecutor's office, said.

"Revenge, organized crime, no line of investigation has been discarded," he said.

As rival cartels battle for control of the lucrative trade in cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines, the U.S.-Mexico border has become a dangerous place for reporters, media groups warn.

Three journalists were murdered there last year amid a surge in drug-related violence. All were known for using their work to confront drug lords and corrupt officials.

"This highlights the situation for Mexican reporters who cover these issues on the U.S.-Mexico border," Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York said. "The level of impunity, the level of violence, is just outrageous."

Garcia Escamilla had worked for a time in Nuevo Laredo's police administration and recently received threats, Chavez said. Her car was burned outside her home this year.

In February, a television journalist went into hiding after his car and home were sprayed with machine-gun fire following his reports on drug cartel kidnappings in Nuevo Laredo.

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders says more journalists were killed in Mexico than anywhere in the Americas last year. Worldwide, only Iraq, Bangladesh and the Philippines had more journalist deaths.

Last year's murders prompted demonstrations across Mexico and calls on the government to make the killing of a journalist a special crime to be investigated by federal authorities.

So far, no one has been convicted in the attacks. In one murder, a suspect was himself killed in jail awaiting trial.

In Tamaulipas, home to the notorious Gulf cartel, there have been 94 violent deaths -- more than half related to organized crime -- since a new state government took office three months ago, the daily La Jornada reported.

A lawyer was shot dead by a gunman at a Nuevo Laredo restaurant on Monday.

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