May 16, 2019 / 6:17 PM / 5 days ago

Reporter shot and killed in Mexican tourist resort

FILE PHOTO: People stand near bullet casings on the ground at a crime scene after a shootout in the municipality Tuzamapan, in the Mexican state of Veracruz, Mexico, May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Yahir Ceballos

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A crime reporter has been shot and killed in the beach resort of Playa del Carmen on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, authorities said on Thursday, the latest in a rising death toll of journalists under the government of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

The body of Francisco Romero, a police reporter for newspaper “Quintana Roo, Hoy” and director of the local news website “Ocurrio Aqui” was found outside a bar in Playa del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo, local prosecutors said.

“Ocurrio Aqui” also confirmed Romero’s death.

State prosecutors said in a statement the motive for the killing was unclear and that investigations were continuing.

Romero had reported threats against him and recently posted a video saying he had been kidnapped, blindfolded and beaten by unidentified assailants.

Playa del Carmen is close to the popular resort of Cancun, and the area has been a focal point of turf wars between local gangs battling for control of criminal rackets.

According to a tally kept by Article 19, a free-speech advocacy group, Romero becomes the sixth journalist to be killed since Lopez Obrador took office at the start of December.

Article 19 said Romero was part of a government program designed to give at-risk reporters protection.

Lopez Obrador won election last July pledging to tackle rampant violence in Mexico, which suffered a record murder tally of nearly 29,000 last year. So far, however, killings are still rising and 2019 is on track to surpass the 2018 total.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by James Dalgleish

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