Reporter killed in ambush after broadcast about crime wave

New York, September 16, 2004—A Dominican reporter was ambushed and killed by gunmen this week, moments after a radio broadcast in which he reported on a bloody crime wave that has pitted gang members against police in the southern town of Azua, according to local news reports.

Juan Emilio Andújar Matos, host of Radio Azua’s weekly show “Encuentro Mil 60” (“Encounter 1060”) and correspondent with the Santo Domingo-based daily Listín Diario, was killed in the September 14 attack. Jorge Luis Sención, a radio reporter who witnessed the attack, was later shot himself and lost his right forearm to amputation.

“We are shocked and saddened by the murder of Juan Andújar,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said today. “We urge Dominican authorities to investigate this heinous attack forcefully and to prosecute all those responsible.”

The attack comes amid an escalating crime wave in Azua, 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of the capital, Santo Domingo. Several Dominican journalists who have reported on the crime surge have been threatened with death and are receiving police protection, according to press reports.

Andújar left the station around 9:40 a.m. with colleague Juan Sánchez, a correspondent with the Santo Domingo-based dailies El Nacional and Hoy. During the show, the reporters discussed the killing that morning of four reputed gang members in a gun battle with police, according to press reports. Andújar and Sánchez, as well as other journalists from Azua, had previously received death threats for their comments on the crime wave.

As the reporters were about to drive their motorcycles away, two motorcyclists shot at them, hitting Andújar in the head as Sánchez took refuge in a nearby fire station, the Dominican press reported. Andújar died an hour and a half later in a local hospital.

Sención, a reporter with Enriquillo Radio in the town of Tamayo, saw the ambush and aided Andújar in the immediate aftermath, according to a local press account. Later that morning, while with his pregnant wife, Sención was ambushed himself by same gunmen. He remained hospitalized today under tight security.

Azua reporters Domingo Corcino, Héctor Camaño, Narciso Martínez, Christian Daniel Ramírez, Rafael Vargas and Juan Sánchez have also received threats and are being protected by local police, Listín Diario reported.

Dominican authorities in Santo Domingo dispatched what was described as an elite police unit and two helicopters to patrol the town. A man believed to be one of the two assailants was killed by police in a gun battle yesterday; the other assailant was believed to be still at large.

Andújar, a respected journalist with 20 years of experience, was also a professor at the Technology University of Azua president of an environmental organization. A colleague said he was 49.