Gunmen attack university radio station

New York, July 24, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns an attack by gunmen on a university radio station in Oaxaca, southeast Mexico, which has backed efforts to oust the local state governor.

At least 10 men in ski masks sprayed bullets at Radio Universidad on the evening of July 22 as it was on the air, Mexican and international media reported. Nobody was hurt in the attack. The gunmen rode in four vehicles with Mexico City license plates.

Francisco Javier Merino, a reporter for the station at the Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca, told CPJ that staff dove for cover as the attackers drove around the buildings firing at the offices and antennas. María del Carmen López Velázquez, who was broadcasting at the time, made an on-air appeal for help before the transmission was cut.

Merino said the gunmen left as neighbors arrived. Staff recovered more than 50 bullet casings.

“We condemn this vicious attack on Radio Universidad,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “We urge Mexican authorities to conduct a thorough investigation and bring those responsible to justice.”

A teachers’ strike over pay in Oaxaca has sparked a wave of antigovernment protests. After Oaxaca state governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz ordered police to disperse protesters with tear gas on June 14, many groups joined the protests. Radio Universidad has been demanding the governor’s resignation since then. López said that unidentified individuals have called the radio several times, threatening to kill reporters if the station continued its calls for the governor’s resignation. Governor Ruiz’s office condemned the attack, The Associated Press said.