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Marcos Antonio Avila Garcia, Journalist, Kidnapped In Mexico

AP  |  Posted: Updated: 05/18/2012 4:40 pm

Mexico Journalist

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Masked gunmen kidnapped a police reporter while he waited at a car wash in the northern state of Sonora, authorities said Friday.

State prosecutors' spokesman Jose Larrinaga said reporter Marcos Antonio Avila Garcia was waiting Thursday for his car to be washed in Ciudad Obregon when three men with automatic rifles forced him into a waiting pickup truck.

No ransom had been requested for the reporter, who covered police news for Diario Sonora de la Tarde and El Regional, said Larrinaga.

Police are investigating whether drug traffickers took Avila, he said, adding that the 39-year-old reporter often wrote about organized crime.

Eduardo Flores, director of the sister newspapers, told the press group Articulo 19 that Avila was among the most experienced police reporters on his staff and that he didn't know if the journalist had received threats. No threats had been received by the newspapers, he added.

Mexico has become one of the world's most dangerous countries for journalists in recent years, with media workers disproportionately targeted as a government offensive against drug cartels and rivalry among crime gangs have resulted in tens of thousands of killings, kidnappings and extortion cases.

Last week, gunmen opened fire on the offices of the El Manana newspaper in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. The week before, police found the mutilated bodies of three photojournalists inside plastic bags dumped in a canal in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.

Prosecutions in journalist killings are rarely carried out, which is generally the case with most homicides and other serious crimes in Mexico.

Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights says 79 journalists were killed between 2000 and 2011. In addition, it said 14 of them have disappeared. Other press freedom groups differ with that number.

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Filed by Katherine Fung  |