Two journalists shot dead in Colombia: police

Assailants on a motorcycle shot two journalists to death on Sunday in Colombia as they returned from covering a carnival, police said. 

Both worked for a news website called Sol Digital based in the northern town of Fundacion on the Caribbean coast, and they were identified as Leiner Montero Ortega, 37, and Dilia Contreras Cantillo, 39, said Andres Serna, police chief in the department of Magdalena. 

The reporters were driving back to Fundacion from the town of Santa Rosa de Lima, where they had covered a street festival, when the attackers shot them, Serna said. 

He said another person was wounded, but did not specify if this was a journalist too. 

Police said they think the shooting stemmed from some kind of argument or altercation at the carnival. 

But the Free Press Foundation urged police ‘to take into account Leiner and Dilia’s work as journalists’ as they investigate the crime. 

The foundation said that last year 768 journalists in Colombia suffered some kind of violence, including killings. 

Serna convened an emergency meeting of police officials in Fundacion, which the government says is among the worst in Colombia in terms of violence, poverty, black market economic activity and weak government institutions. 

Since a peace accord with leftist FARC rebels was signed in 2016, 10 reporters in Colombia have been killed. 

That makes this country Latin America’s third most dangerous for journalists, after Venezuela and Mexico, according to Reporters without Borders. 

‘We condemn the killing of journalists,’ said Juan Pappier, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. 

Colombian Senate speaker Roy Barreras called the shooting an attack on ‘democracy’s life’ and called for police to resolve the case.

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