Two individuals, who identified themselves as members of the
far-right paramilitary group United Self-Defense Forces of
Colombia (AUC), shot Colombian journalist Gustavo Adolfo Valencia Ayala inside
his home in the eastern city of Popayán
on March 16, 2009, according to local news reports. The journalist, who was
injured but is in stable condition, said he believes the attack was retaliation
for his work.
Two men approached Valencia, Papayán news director for
the national radio station Todelar, after the journalist parked his car outside
his home around 8:40 p.m., the news reports said. Valencia said the men, who
identified themselves as members of the AUC, warned him that they would destroy
his home if he didn't comply. They took Valencia's national I.D. card and press
credentials, his colleague Sonia Godoy told CPJ. When Valencia asked
the reason for the attack, his assailants told him they had to talk to their
commander before giving him any more information.
The assailants held Valencia, his
wife, and children hostage for over an hour, Godoy said. But they did not take
anything from the house. After Valencia's
daughter attempted to run away, one of the assailants shot Valencia in the
left leg as the journalist tried to stop them from running after his daughter. When
the assailants fled, Valencia
was taken to local hospital San José de Popayán, according to a report in the
national radio station Caracol. On March 26, Godoy said Valencia remained
at the hospital though he was in stable condition.
The journalist said he believes the
attack was retaliation for his work, though he cannot pinpoint a specific
story, Godoy said. Valencia's
news programs report general news from the Popayán area. Valencia and
the radio station have never received threats although some listeners have called
in harsh commentary following pieces on local politics, according to Godoy.
Local authorities began an immediate
investigation, reported Caracol.