December 9, 2007 / 4:33 AM / 12 years ago

Gunmen in Mexico kill crime reporter

A joint police and military patrol ride in the bed of a pickup truck down one of the main streets of Uruapan, in the Mexican state of Michoacan September 7, 2006. Gunmen shot a crime reporter 45 times in Uruapan on Saturday after a high-speed chase as he tried to escape on his motorcycle. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Gunmen shot a crime reporter 45 times in a Mexican town plagued by drug violence on Saturday after a high-speed chase as he tried to escape on his motorcycle.

Cut off by a vehicle in Uruapan, in the state of Michoacan, Gerardo Garcia fled on his motorcycle as far as his home, where his pursuers killed him, police and a source at the newspaper where he worked told Reuters.

Mexico’s drug cartels are battling for control of regions key to trafficking South American cocaine and other drugs into the United States. Mexican journalists are targets of threats and attacks, especially when they cover the drug gangs.

Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders says nine journalists were killed in Mexico in 2006 for reporting on drug trafficking or violent unrest, making it the world’s most dangerous place for reporters after Iraq.

The area around Uruapan is the scene of frequent violence and was one of the first places targeted by President Felipe Calderon in a crackdown on drug gangs that began last year.

More than 25,000 soldiers, marines and federal police have been deployed to Michoacan and other violent regions to disrupt narcotics smuggling and hunt gang members.

In July, a drug gang threatened to kill foreign journalists who report on the violence between rival cartels and security forces along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In response, two Texas-based newspapers pulled their reporters from the area.

Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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