MONTERREY, Mexico — The three masked gunmen took less than a minute to burst into the offices of a major Mexican newspaper in northern Mexico, subdue the security guard, drench the reception with gasoline and set the building ablaze.
Surveillance video at the El Nortes building in the Monterrey suburb of San Pedro Garza Garcia shows the three assailants, two carrying automatic rifles, get into a waiting minivan and drive away escorted by at least three other waiting vehicles. Seconds later a San Pedro Garza Garcia police car arrives at the scene but doesnt give chase.
The attack against El Nortes offices in Monterreys metropolitan area is the third in less than a month against the newspaper and experts say it could be an escalation in the efforts by drug traffickers to intimidate a major national newspaper as attacks against the media remain largely unpunished.
Drug traffickers began controlling local media outlets, then they went for those with a regional reach and it now seems they want to control those with a national reach, said Jose Carreno, a media expert at Mexico Citys Ibero-American University.
The newspaper said in a story published Monday that none of the 15 people working El Nortes supplement Sierra Madre were injured. The weekly society insert covers weddings, parties and the doings of local celebrities and their families.
Monterrey-based El Norte is part of the Reforma Group which publishes newspapers around the country, including the maverick Reforma newspaper, a Mexico City-based national daily that prides itself on its investigations into drug trafficking and government corruption.
The newspaper chain is one of the few to still write about drug trafficking. Other newspapers in northeast Mexico have stopped covering drug cartel violence all together to protect their staffs against violent attacks including kidnappings and murders carried out by gangs that want to prevent their activities from appearing in print, or are angered by coverage.
Last month, gunmen threw grenades and opened fire on two buildings belonging to the El Norte newspaper in Monterreys metropolitan area. No injuries were reported in those attacks.
Reforma Group officials didnt return a call Monday by The Associated Press requesting comment.
In its story published Monday it said that until late Sunday no drug cartel had claimed responsibility and that they didnt know a motive for the attack, which brought back memories of the torching last year of a Monterrey casino that killed 52 people.
Authorities say the casino was torched by the Zetas drug gang, which was extorting the owner.
No one has been detained in any of the attacks against the newspaper, which has been targeted at least six times since 2010, when the Zetas drug gang and its former allies in the Gulf drug cartel began fighting for control of Nuevo Leon state, where Monterrey is located.
Several press freedom groups on Monday urged Mexican authorities to investigate the attacks.
There is no journalist in Mexico who can feel safe when there are criminal groups who feel they can attack a national media outlet without any consequences, said Carlos Lauria, senior program coordinator for the Americas for the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Nuevo Leon Gov. Rodrigo Medina said Monday he is committed to finding those behind the Sunday attack and asked local and federal authorities to close ranks and help protect journalists.
The federal Interior Department also issued a statement condemning the attack and said it has offered to help state authorities with the investigation.
Mexicos National Human Rights Commission says there have been 126 attacks on journalists or media outlets in Mexico since 2000 and only 24 of these cases have been prosecuted. Only two of these cases have resulted in convictions.
The commission attributes the impunity largely to a failure by authorities to investigate attacks.
Other groups have smaller numbers, such as the Committee to Protect, because of how they count journalists.