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Journalist killed in Mexico, eighth so far this year

MEXICO CITY (AP) – Another journalist was shot to death in Mexico on Tuesday, the eighth murdered so far this year in an unprecedented spate of killings that has made Mexico the most dangerous place in the world for the press.

Reporters and photographers have been murdered this year in Mexico at the rate of almost one a week, despite claims from the government that the situation is under control.

Prosecutors in the western state of Michoacan said reporter Armando Linares was shot to death at a home in the town of Zitacuaro. His killing came six weeks after the slaying of a colleague, Roberto Toledo, from the same outlet Monitor Michoacan. It was Linares who announced Toledo’s death on January 31 in a video posted to social media.

Zitacuaro is one of the closest towns to the monarch butterfly wintering grounds in the mountains west of Mexico City.

The area has been plagued by illegal logging and drug gangs, local governance disputes and deforestation linked to expanding avocado production. Logging has damaged the pine and fir forests where the butterflies spend the winter after migrating from the United States and Canada.

Linares served as director at the Monitor Michoacan website, which on Tuesday continued to show an article he had written about a cultural festival celebrating monarch butterflies.

There was no immediate information on a possible motive in the killing.

Toledo, a camera operator and video editor for Monitor Michoacan, was shot on January 31 as he prepared for an interview in Zitacuaro.

At the time of Toledo’s death, Linares told The Associated Press (AP) he had received several death threats after enrolling in a government journalist protection programme.

Asked who he thought was behind the threats, Linares said “they pass themselves off as an armed group, they pass themselves off as a criminal gang. We can’t verify whether it is true or not that they are this armed gang”.

Criminals in Mexico often claim they are part of a drug cartel in order to instill fear in their victims, whether or not they really are.

“We have organised crime, just like in the rest of the country, and monitor worked on a lot of issues like illegal logging, given that we are near the monarch reserve,” Linares said in early February. “We wrote a lot about illegal logging and also a lot of issues like corruption in the municipal government.”

Photos of slain journalists are posted on the gate of Mexico’s Attorney General’s office during a vigil. PHOTO: AP
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