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Newspaper offices in northern Mexico attacked with grenades

November 17, 2008 | 11:58 am

Reports are surfacing that the offices of the Culiacán newspaper El Debate were attacked with two grenades early this morning. The explosions, which shattered windows but caused no injuries, happened at around 1a.m when two youngsters wearing white shirts threw the grenades at the main entrance to the offices, reports La Jornada.

The area has been cordoned off by the Army.

El Debate is the largest newspaper in Sinaloa and "fairly aggressive in its organized crime coverage," according to BorderReporter.com. As Tracy Wilkinson reported earlier this year, the city of Culiacán is the birthplace of Mexico's multimillion dollar drug trade and home to some of the major players in Mexico's powerful drug cartels.

El Debate is not the first newspaper to be targeted with grenades in Mexico, where attacks against journalists and the media -- especially those who cover organized crime - -are depressingly frequent. More than 30 reporters have died or disappeared in Mexico since 2000, the group Reporters Without Borders says.

In May last year, Cambio in the northern state of Sonora closed its doors after two grenade attacks and what its editor said was a failure on the part of the government to protect its 250 employees. In October 2007, journalists of the Oaxacan newspaper El Imparcial del Istmo resigned out of fear for their lives after the killing of three of the newspaper’s employees and repeated threats after the newspaper reported the finding of a grave containing seven corpses.

In February 2006, the offices of El Mañana newspaper in Nuevo Laredo were attacked by men wielding grenades and assault rifles. A reporter was left paralyzed and the paper later announced that it would cease producing investigative reports on drug trafficking.

Reporters Without Borders says that Mexico is the most deadly country in the Americas for journalists.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City