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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Reporters Rescued Alive After Attack

Oaxaca - Two journalists missing since an attack this week on a caravan of human rights activists in the southern Mexico state of Oaxaca were rescued by police from the spot where they hid from the assailants.

Reporter Erika Ramirez and photographer David Cilia, who had a gunshot wound, were located 11:00 p.m. Thursday and taken to the city of Santiago Juxtlahuaca, where they were met by family and colleagues before being admitted to the municipal hospital, regional prosecutor Wilfrido Almaraz said.

With support from a helicopter, some 80 Oaxaca state police set out Thursday afternoon to search for Ramirez and Cilia around the community of San Juan Copala, the intended destination of the ambushed convoy.

The police operation followed public complaints by the pair’s boss, Contralinea magazine editor Miguel Badillo, that authorities were doing nothing to find the missing journalists.

Four vehicles carrying some 40 people were ambushed Tuesday while on a mission to deliver food to residents besieged in San Juan Copala, 300 kilometers (186 miles) west of Oaxaca city, the state capital.

Two people, Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo and Finnish national Jyri Antero Jaakkola, were killed in the attack, while another activist was wounded.

Ramirez, Cilia and two other journalists, David Venegas and Noe Bautista, were reported missing.

Venegas and Bautista, who received two bullet wounds in the ambush, surfaced on Thursday with a video showing that the Contralinea journalists were alive.

Ramirez and Cilia were in Oaxaca “reconstructing the story” of the murder of a San Juan Copala resident who apparently fell afoul of one of the three Triqui Indian organizations battling for control of the community, editor Badillo said.

At least 10 people have been slain in San Juan Copala so far this year.

Amnesty International issued a statement Wednesday urging Mexican authorities to investigate the attack on the caravan.

“Oaxaca authorities have for many years been unwilling to investigate grave human rights violations in that state,” AI’s deputy Americas director, Guadalupe Marengo, said. “The attorney general must now take immediate steps to protect those affected by the attack and carry out a full and impartial investigation.”

Mexican activists say San Juan Copala is under siege by paramilitaries linked to Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz and the state branch of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI.

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