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News photographer killed in Oaxaca

October 28, 2006|Carlos Martinez and Sam Enriquez | Times Staff Writers

MEXICO CITY — A New York-based photographer was fatally shot Friday while trying to conduct interviews during a shootout between leftist protesters and a group of assailants in Oaxaca city, where a five-month teachers strike has triggered at least eight killings.

The photographer, Bradley Will, 36, had been working for about six weeks, collecting photographs and video footage of the Oaxaca conflict for the Independent Media Center, an Internet-based alternative news agency, said Red Cross officials, witnesses and the agency.

A Spanish human rights observer said he made friends with Will over the last three weeks and the two men shared a motor scooter Friday to report on the violence in the colonial capital.

In the late afternoon, a university radio station controlled by the protesters reported that shots were being fired at a barricade blocking the entrance to the city, said a human rights observer, who declined to give his name for fear of reprisal.

The two men drove to Avenida Ferrocarril and Will headed toward the barricade to videotape interviews for a documentary he had been compiling, the witness said.

As Will walked on the street, he was hit in the abdomen by gunfire. "By the time he got to the hospital, he was already dead," the witness said.

Protest leader Flavio Sosa alleged that a group of 30 government operatives armed with large-caliber weapons attacked the street barricade, killing Will. State government officials denied any involvement in the shooting.

The witness said Will had planned to return to New York soon.

The state's 70,000 teachers last week tentatively agreed to return to classes in exchange for a 30% raise over six years.

The deal with the teachers has angered thousands of others who had joined their protest and are demanding the resignation of Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz. Ruiz has said he will not step down.

carlos.martinez@latimes.com

sam.enriquez@latimes.com

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