Radio journalist killed in Honduras, making 17 slain in two years

The Honduran radio journalist Luz Marina Paz Villalobos was shot to death Tuesday, Dec. 6, in the capital city of Tegucigalpa, according to the Associated Press. Paz Villalobos is the 17th journalist killed in this Central American country since 2010.

Paz Villalobos worked as a radio journalist for the Honduran News Channel (CHN in Spanish) since June, and for eight years she was a reporter for the station Radio Globo, whose editorial line sympathized with ousted president Manuel Zelaya and criticized the coup that overthrew him.

According to witnesses, unknown gunmen on board a motorcycle shot at the car the journalist was in, killing her and the driver who was with her at the time, according to the GlobalPost.

Relatives of the journalist suspect the killing could be related to extortionists who had threatened her for refusing to pay them a "war tax," according to CHN.

The police are investigating whether the motive of the crime was the theft of her vehicle, related to the driver who was with her, or whether the killing was related to the work of the journalist, according to the news agency AFP.

Honduras has one of the highest homicide rates in the world (82 per 100,000 inhabitants), according to the UN, reported the BBC.

The president of the Committee for Free Expression (C-Libre in Spanish), Osmán López, said whether killings are related to personal problems or organized crime, "the problem is that they are not investigated,” according to Telesur.

One day before Paz Villalobos was killed, the offices of the newspaper La Tribuna were attacked by gunmen. The Inter American Press Association condemned the killing and the attack and called for a thorough investigation. Honduras is considered the second most dangerous country for journalists in the Americas.

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