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Journalist Dies in Colombia

February 2, 2002

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BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) _ A newspaper editor and columnist in Colombia’s coffee-growing region has died after being shot in the head while walking to his office.

Orlando Sierra, of La Patria newspaper in Manizales, died Friday in the hospital where he had been taken after being shot two days earlier, fellow editor Fernando Ramirez said.

The suspected gunman was arrested right after the attack, but no possible motives have been disclosed.

Sierra was shot while returning to La Patria’s offices in Manizales after having lunch with his daughter. Just two hours before, Sierra gave a television interview in which he decried attacks against journalists as acts of terror.

That interview was with Caracol Television, whose network offices in the capital of Bogota were damaged in a car-bomb attack earlier in the day.

Sierra wrote a Sunday column for La Patria and was deputy editor of the daily newspaper.

Ten journalists were killed in Colombia in 2001, the highest toll for a single country, according to the World Association of Newspapers, a media watchdog group.

Sierra was the second journalist killed in Colombia this year.

On Jan. 23, a photographer for El Caleno was shot and killed two blocks from the Cali newspaper. No arrests have been announced in Marco Ayala’s death.

Leftist rebels and rival right-wing paramilitary gunmen have been accused of targeting journalists in Colombia’s 38-year-old civil war.

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