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Journalist killed in Mexico, eighth since the beginning of the year

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Another journalist was fatally shot in Mexico on Tuesday, the eighth to be murdered so far this year in an unprecedented string 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 nearly one a week, despite government claims that the situation is under control.

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

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

The area is plagued by illegal logging and drug gangs, local governance disputes, and deforestation linked to the expansion of 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 of the Monitor Michoacan website, which continued on Tuesday to show an article he had written about a cultural festival celebrating monarch butterflies.

There was no immediate information about a possible motive in the murder.

Toledo, cameraman and video editor for Monitor Michoacanwas shot on January 31 while preparing for an interview in Zitacuaro.

At the time of Toledo’s death, Linares said The Associated Press (AP) he had received several death threats after enrolling in a government program to protect journalists.

When asked who he thinks was behind the threats, Linares said: “They are posing as an armed group, they are posing as a criminal gang. We cannot verify whether or not it is true that it is this armed gang”.

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

“We have organized crime, like the rest of the country, and the monitor has worked on a lot of issues like illegal logging, given that we’re close to the monarch reserve,” Linares said in early February. “We’ve written a lot about illegal logging and also about many issues like corruption in municipal government.”

Photos of murdered journalists are posted on the portal of Mexico’s attorney general’s office during a vigil. PHOTO: AP