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Mexican journalist gunned down in Guerrero state

Cecilio Pineda, who accused the authorities of collusion with criminals, had been targeted before

Cecilio Pineda.
Cecilio Pineda.

Crusading journalist Cecilio Pineda Birto was gunned down on Thursday evening in Ciudad de Altamirano, in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, federal police have confirmed.

The 38-year-old freelancer, who was a contributor to leading daily El Universal, was waiting while his car was being washed, when at around 7.30pm local time several armed individuals on motorcycles gunned him down and then fled. He died from his injuries before an ambulance arrived.

Pineda specialized in local news stories in Guerrero, one of Mexico’s most violent states, where waves of grisly killings have taken place as cartels battle over drug-trafficking routes and clash with security forces.

Active on Facebook, where he had more than 31,000 followers, Pineda had earlier on Thursday posted a video about El Tequilero, the alleged head of a gang of kidnappers that has been active in the region.

“There will be more deaths, because the authorities don’t want to do what they should be doing. It seems there is strong agreement between the government and this criminal leader,” he said on the social network.

The authorities say they have begun an investigation into Pineda’s slaying.

According to eldiario.mx, based in Ciudad Juárez on the US border, this was not the first time Pineda had been targeted. In September 2015, he was shot when he arrived at his house in Coyuca de Catalán, some 50 kilometers inland from the resort of Zihuataneco.

Mexico is widely considered to be the most dangerous country in the Americas to be a journalist

In 2014, 43 student teachers disappeared in Guerrero. According to an official investigation, they were arrested by corrupt police officers who handed them over to drug hitmen, who then killed them and burned their bodies.

But their families and human-rights groups believe that the army was involved in the death of the students and that the Mexican government is involved in a cover-up.

The International Court of Human Rights at the Hague says that Mexico is the most dangerous country in the Americas to be a journalist. The Committee for the Protection of Journalists say that at least 48 journalists were killed in the world in 2016, up from 72 the previous year. The UN, Reporters Without Borders, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, and the Inter-American Press Society have all criticized the “climate of impunity” in Mexico.

With information from Pablo Ferri.

English version by Nick Lyne.

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