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Renowned Mexican journalist survives shooting

Ciro Gómez Leyva says he was saved by his armored car after gunmen shot at him near his home in Mexico City.

A prominent Mexican radio and television reporter says two gunmen tried to kill him near his home in Mexico City, renewing concerns for the safety of journalists in the Central American country.

Ciro Gómez Leyva, one of Mexico’s best-known journalists, said in a social media post early Friday morning that the attack occurred just before midnight.

“Two hundred meters [650 feet] from my house two people on a motorcycle shot at me, apparently with the clear intention of killing me,” wrote Gómez Leyva. “The armor plating on my truck that I was driving saved me, and I have reported the matter to the authorities.”

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He shared photos of the impact of several bullets in his car. The bullets appear not to have penetrated through the window of his vehicle.

Mexico has seen an uptick in deadly violence against media professionals this year. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), a US-based watchdog, 13 journalists have been killed in the country so far in 2022, including three who were targeted in “retaliation for their reports”.

Mexico also leads the world in the number of missing journalists: 15 cases since 2005, the committee said this year.

Mexico is now the deadliest country for reporters outside of war zones. In its year-end report, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said that 20 percent of journalists killed worldwide were killed in Mexico. That, along with the killings in Haiti and Brazil, helped make the Americas the “most dangerous region in the world for media” in 2022, according to the report.

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Attacks on journalists in Mexico have often been blamed on organized crime, but press freedom advocates have criticized authorities and the country’s weak legal system for failing to adequately address the problem.

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“While investigating attacks on journalists, CPJ found that authorities are often slow to respond, fail to follow best evidence-gathering practices, and appear to prioritize producing suspects as soon as possible, rather than conducting a thorough investigation” the group said in a statement in August.

“In addition, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether official investigations are reliable, as authorities are allegedly in collusion with criminal gangs or involved in the attacks themselves,” he said.

The attack on Gómez Leyva drew condemnation across Mexico, including from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who often verbally clashes with the reporter.

“He is a journalist, a human being, but he is also a leader of public opinion and the injuries to a person like Ciro generate a lot of political instability,” López Obrador said.

“We have differences,” the president admitted. “They are notorious and public. We will continue to have them, but it is completely reprehensible for someone to be attacked.”

Gomez Leyva said he had no idea who was behind the attack.

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He said he had only received threats five years ago after publishing a story about extortion in a Mexico City prison. After that 2017 threat, the media company he works for insisted that he use a bulletproof Jeep Cherokee.

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