In Guatemala, Lynch Mob Turns on Reporters

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By: Mark Fitzgerald

In northeastern Guatemala, a lynch mob of some 100 people who killed and set afire a person suspected of being a gang member then turned their rage on four local journalists who arrived to cover the incident, attacking them with gunfire, bats and rocks.

Rudy Toledo, a reporter with the local cable channel Television Cable Noticias, was shot three times, according to accounts by the Guatemalan press, a national journalists union and the New York City-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

CPJ reported he was in stable condition in a Guatemala City hospital.

Also wounded in the attack were Toledo?s brother Oscar Toledo, a correspondent for the national daily Nuestro Diario; Carlos Toledo, a cousin of the two who is a correspondent for the TeleDiario news program on the national television channel Canal 3; and Oscar Figuero, a correspondent for the radio station Emisoras Unidas.

According to a report in the Guatemala City daily El Periodico, the events in the Quich? province town of San Andr?s Sajcabaj?, about 60 miles from Guatemala City, began about four in the morning Wednesday when local man Juan Jos? G?mez Ur?zar and two other men were discovered trying to rob a home.

The mob believed the men were part of the notorious Mara 18 street gang, whose local units have plagued Central America.

By midday, G?mez Ur?zar had been killed and his body burned, and the mob was running through the town looking for his accomplices. Two men were eventually captured, and at last report Wednesday night were still being held by the mob in a local residence.

When the journalists arrived together in a vehicle, some indicated a willingness to be interviewed, while others refused and began to threaten them, Figueroa told CPJ. The reporters were all wearing jackets from their news organizations and had media credentials visible, he added.

Some heavily armed men began punching and kicking the reporters, throwing rocks, grabbing their equipment, and swinging sticks at them. Then some began shooting into the air, hitting Rudy Toledo.

Two local police intervened, and got the reporters away.

After they left, the mob burned their vehicle.

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