Mexico: Journalist shot dead in troubled Guerrero state

ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) - A journalist has been murdered in the troubled southern state of Guerrero, Mexican authorities said Friday, adding to a long list of reporter killings in what is considered one of the world's most dangerous countries for media professionals.

The Guerrero state prosecutor's office said in a statement that Cecilio Pineda Birto was shot dead Thursday evening in Ciudad Altamirano while in a hammock at a car wash waiting for his car to be serviced. Prosecutors said two attackers arrived on a motorcycle and one of them fired a handgun, according to eyewitness accounts.

Authorities were investigating, and there was no immediate word on whether his killing may have been related to his work.

Pineda was the founder of La Voz de Tierra Caliente, collaborated with various other media outlets and also published reports via Facebook, said Carlos Lauria, senior program coordinator for the Americas at the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, who has been working to document the case.

Lauria told The Associated Press that according to a witness, Pineda was shot at least 10 times "execution-style," including once in the neck and four times in the chest.

Pineda was apparently receiving threats on a weekly basis, mostly through social media, according to Lauria. He added that Pineda escaped a previous attempt to kill him in September 2015 when a gunman shot at him at his home.

According to the CPJ, at least 37 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992 for motives confirmed as directly related to their work. Forty-nine more were slain during the same period in circumstances that have not yet been fully explained.

"Mexico is clearly the worst, most dangerous place for journalists in the Western Hemisphere," Lauria said. "And what makes it worse is the impunity surrounding most of these cases that perpetuates a climate of violence where journalists are left wide open to attacks."

Ciudad Altamirano is in one of the most conflicted parts of Guerrero, an area where heroin-producing poppy crops are grown in a region disputed by several drug gangs. Recently some of the most serious fighting has been between members of La Familia cartel and a group known as Los Tequileros.

Citizen self-defense militias have also taken up arms in the area to try to protect themselves from kidnappings and killings, and government security forces have deployed a strong presence in the area.


Associated Press writer Jose Antonio Rivera reported from Acapulco and Peter Orsi reported from Mexico City.