Two journalists were shot to death in Mexico's Gulf coast state of Veracruz on Monday, state prosecutors said, raising to 11 the number of such killings in the country this year.
The Veracruz State Prosecutor's Office said via Twitter that it was investigating the killings of Yessenia Mollinedo Falconi and Sheila Johana García Olivera, the director and a reporter, respectively, of the online news site El Veraz in Cosoleacaque.
Veracruz State Prosecutor Verónica Hernández Giadáns said the investigation would be exhaustive, including considering their journalism work as a motive in their killing.
The State Commission for Attention To and Protection of Journalists said the two women were attacked outside a convenience store.
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“We condemn this attack on Veracruz’s journalism profession, give it prompt monitoring and have opened an investigation,” the commission said.
Their killings came on the heels of the ninth slaying of journalist this year, in the northern state of Sinaloa. Prosecutors there said Thursday that the body of Luis Enrique Ramírez Ramos was found on a dirt road near a junkyard in the state capital, Culiacan.
Prosecutors said that his body was wrapped in black plastic and that he died from multiple blows to the head.
Ramírez Ramos’ news website, “Fuentes Fidedignas,” or “Reliable Sources,” said that he had been abducted near his house hours earlier.
The dizzying pace of killings has made Mexico the deadliest country for journalists to work outside of war zones this year.
The victims, like those killed Monday, are most often from small, hyperlocal news outlets. El Veraz operated a Facebook page and appeared to almost exclusively post notices about events or public information from the municipality's government.
The phone number listed for El Veraz rang to what appeared to be Mollinedo Falconi's cell phone, according to its message.
Veracruz Gov. Cuitláhuac García said a search was underway for those responsible.
“We will find the perpetrators of this crime, there will be justice and there will not be impunity like we have said and done in other cases,” García said via Twitter.
Journalists had already scheduled a demonstration for Monday in Mexico City to protest killings of their colleagues, most recently that of Ramírez Ramos in Sinaloa.
Mexico’s state and federal governments have been criticized for neither preventing the killings nor investigating them sufficiently.
While President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has promised a “zero impunity” program to investigate such slayings, journalists’ murders, like most homicides in Mexico, are never resolved by authorities. López Obrador has also kept up his regular verbal attacks on journalists critical of his administration.
In February, the Inter American Press Association called on the president to “immediately suspend the aggressions and insults, because such attacks from the top of power encourage violence against the press.”
In March, the European Union approved a resolution that “calls on the authorities, and in particular the highest ones, to refrain from issuing any communication which could stigmatize human rights defenders, journalists and media workers, exacerbate the atmosphere against them or distort their lines of investigation.”