Colombian authorities should thoroughly investigate the attempted shooting of journalist Pincen Mora, hold the perpetrators to account, and guarantee his safety, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.
On June 8, at about 5 p.m., a group of eight unidentified men on motorcycles stopped at the home and office of Mora, editor of the independent Facebook-based local news outlet Extrema Noticias, in the city of Medellín, and demanded he come outside and speak with them, according to news reports and the journalist, who spoke with CPJ via messaging app.
After Mora refused to leave his home, the men opened fire at the building; nine bullets hit the front door and an interior wall, while Mora, his wife, and his 14-year-old daughter hid inside, according to those sources.
“They yelled, ‘We don’t want you in the neighborhood,’” Liliana Ospina, Mora’s wife and a part-time reporter for Extrema Noticias, told CPJ. She said the attackers called Extrema Noticias a “sapo,” a colloquialism for someone who spreads accusations about others.
The family was unhurt in the attack but moved out for their safety; when they returned today to collect their belongings, Mora said thieves had broken in and stolen jewelry, a refrigerator, furniture, TV sets, computers, and other valuables from both their home and the Extrema Noticias office, which share the same building.
“Colombian authorities should swiftly investigate the attempted shooting of journalist Pincen Mora and his family, an attack that was clearly meant to silence his reporting,” said CPJ’s Central and South America program coordinator, Natalie Southwick, in New York. “Mora and his family were lucky to survive unharmed, and those responsible must face justice.”
Mora told CPJ that he founded Extrema Noticias, which has three volunteer reporters, in 2016. He said the outlet had recently been covering complaints from residents about a neighborhood gang that was allegedly involved in a scheme to illegally sell vacant lots to unsuspecting buyers, and then intimidate them until they abandoned the property.
In response to his coverage of that gang, Mora said he received several death threats on Facebook Messenger, but he did not take them seriously until the attack on his home. Whoever carried out the attack “is trying to shut me up because they don’t like having someone denouncing their wrongdoing,” Mora told CPJ.
Mora said he reported the attack to the state attorney general’s office. Paola Tovar, a spokesperson for that office, did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment about the investigation sent via messaging app.
A Medellín police officer, who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to journalists, told CPJ that local gang members were authorities’ prime suspects in both the shooting and the burglary.
Mora told CPJ that he wants to keep publishing Extrema Noticias, but said it was too dangerous for him to live in Medellín, and he plans to move with his family to another city.
He added that the government’s National Protection Unit has promised to provide him with a bullet-resistant vest and a bodyguard but said, as of today, he had not received them.
CPJ called Jhon Murillo, a spokesperson for the National Protection Unit, but he did not answer or immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.
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