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Colombia26 August 2003

A journalist killed, another wounded

The authorities have blamed the crime on the FARC guerrillas but the two civilians who shot Benavides have not been identified. It was also not clear if the two journalists were targeted in the attack. They were travelling in the vehicle with the governor of a local Indian reserve, Camilo Jamioy, his wife, who is a town councillor from Sibundoy (Putumayo province), and a town council election candidate, Alex Mejía. None had received threats before the attack.


24.08.2003

Suspected rebels kill journalist and wound another

Reporters Without Borders today deplored the killing of a 25-year-old radio journalist and the wounding of another by suspected guerrillas in southern Colombia.

Juan Carlos Carlos Benavidez, a reporter with the community station Manantial Estereo, was shot in the back by rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) when his car reportedly failed to stop at a roadblock on 22 August.

He and another reporter from the station, Jaime Conrado, who was wounded in the stomach, were travelling from Puerto Caicedo (Putumayo state) to cover a meeting the next day between President Alvaro Uribe and regional officials in Puerto Asis.

Benavidez is the fifth journalist killed so far this year in Colombia, which is the most dangerous country in Latin America for journalists, about 50 of whom have been killed over the last decade. The armed groups in the nation’s civil war see them as "military targets" when they suspect them of backing their opponents. Journalists are also murdered when they report on druglords and corruption.

Reporters Without Borders has put the heads of the three main armed groups - Carlos Castaño, of the rightist paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), Manuel Marulanda, of the FARC (Marxist), and Nicolas Rodríguez Bautista, of the National Liberation Army (ELN, Guevarist) - on its worldwide list of "predators of press freedom" because of their repeated attacks on press freedom.

The FARC is holding 21 political hostages, including former presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, about 50 army officers and some 800 civilians, some of them for more than six years. It wants a general agreement to exchange them for its supporters who are being held by the government side.



In this country
15 May - Colombia
Former intelligence officials leak list of news media and journalists whose phones were tapped
28 April - Colombia
Radio reporter gunned down in Cauca department, probably in connection with his work
27 February - Colombia
Call for inter-american intervention in new phone-tap scandal
27 August - Colombia
Authorities use judicial proceedings to intimidate media
20 June - Colombia
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