COATZACOALCOS: A Mexican journalist under government protection was shot dead on Tuesday in the violent state of Veracruz, officials said, the 10th journalist murdered in Mexico this year.

Candido Rios, a crime reporter for a regional newspaper, was gunned down outside a convenience store in the eastern town of Hueyapan de Ocampo along with two other people, including a former police inspector, police sources said.

Rios, 55, had been under a government programme designed to protect journalists and rights activists from a wave of deadly violence, said Jorge Morales, head of the State Commission for the Protection of Journalists in Veracruz.

More than 100 journalists have been murdered since 2006 in Mexico, one of the deadliest countries in the world for the profession, according to the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. More than 90 per cent of the killings remain unpunished.

Rios was well-known locally for his decade-long career at the newspaper Diario de Acayucan, where he reported on crime and government corruption and had publicly feuded with several former mayors.

The newspaper’s editor, Cecilio Perez, said Rios had received death threats from one former mayor, Gaspar Gomez.

Perez described Rios as a born journalist — a country boy who grew up poor and only finished middle school but talked his way into a job as a local correspondent, with a dual role as newspaper vendor.

Despite his humble background, “Pabuche”, as he was known, made a name for himself with hard-hitting, detail-packed reports on organised crime and the misdeeds of public officials.

Perez said Rios was on his way back from writing his daily stories at an internet cafe when he was killed.

The gunmen opened fire with high-powered weapons, killing Acrelio on the spot and badly wounding Rios, who died on the way to hospital, police sources said.

Published in Dawn, August 24th, 2017