German tourist, 76, shot dead on Venezuelan island

CARACAS Fri Feb 7, 2014 6:48pm EST

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CARACAS (Reuters) - A gunman shot dead an elderly German tourist on Venezuela's Margarita island on Friday, authorities said, in the latest incident illustrating the country's rampant crime.

Goldhahm Hors Kurt, 76, was killed outside a shopping center on the Caribbean island, the Public Prosecutor's Office said in a statement.

Venezuela's murder rate is one of the highest in the world, and the South American nation's reputation for violence is a big hindrance to efforts to develop tourism.

Venezuelan media said Kurt had arrived on a cruise ship and was shot during an attempted robbery.

"We're so sorry about the German tourist's death. The security forces are after the criminals," Tourism Minister Andres Izarra said via Twitter. He said another foreign tourist had been injured in the incident.

The murder last month of Venezuelan former beauty queen and soap opera star Monica Spear on a holiday to her homeland from the United States produced an outpouring of national mourning and galvanized attention on crime.

President Nicolas Maduro was due to unveil a new "pacification" plan at the weekend, but opponents say some 20 or so prior plans under him and predecessor Hugo Chavez have failed to address the roots of violent crime.

(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Grant McCool)

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