Unknown assailants on August 15, 2017, attacked reporter Fredy Morales Salas at his home in the Venustiano Carranza district in the Mexican state of Puebla, some 80 miles (130km) from the country’s capitol, according to local journalists, officials and news reports.
Morales’ family told local media the attack occurred around 1 a.m. when two unidentified attackers entered Morales’ house, stabbed the journalist dozens of times, beat him, and then fled.
Severely wounded, Morales, 45, was rushed to the hospital after the incident, and is currently in stable condition, according to news reports and CPJ interviews with local journalists.
The assailants’ identity and possible motives for the attack are not unclear.
The host of a local radio show, “Enlace Serrano,” Morales has regularly commented on current events in the states of Puebla and Veracruz. Several weeks prior to the attack, the journalist had commented on the role violent organized crime groups have played in regional oil theft schemes, according to local newspaper Cambio. A local news website E-Consulta quoted Morales’ family refuting the idea that his radio broadcasts about oil theft served as possible provocation for the recent attack.
Morales has also worked as a peace judge, a non-professional judicial mediator assigned to small communities where there are no courts, in El Ajengibre, a town in his local district, according to a local media report and CPJ research.
On August 16 Puebla’s state authorities told local and national media they had opened an investigation into the assault on Morales, and that both the victim’s work as a journalist and personal conflicts were being considered as possible motives in the attack.
Ricardo Sánchez Pérez del Pozo, the federal Special Prosecutor for Attention to Crimes committed against Freedom of Expression, told CPJ on August 15 that his office has opened a separate investigation and confirmed that the victim’s work as a journalist is being considered as the motivating factor in the attack.
In a statement to the press on August 16, the state attorney general’s office said the victim knew the attackers, though did not specify how they were acquainted.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists. In 2017, at least four journalists have been murdered and one was abducted there, according to CPJ research.