Mexico City [Mexico], May 17 (ANI): A crime reporter, who was working under a federal protection program, was shot dead here on Thursday, making him the fifth journalist to have been killed this year in the Latin American country.
The Mexican police discovered the body of the reporter, identified as Francisco Romero, on a pavement outside a nightclub in his hometown of Playa del Carmen along Mexico's Caribbean coast, Al Jazeera reported.
Romero ran a Facebook-based news site called "Ocurrio Aqui" that covered local politics and crime and had more than 17,000 followers. He was also working for one of the state's leading newspapers, Quintana Roo Hoy.
The state prosecutor's office opened a homicide investigation earlier saying Romero had filed a complaint on April 12 over threats he had received. However, the source of those threats was not specified.
Meanwhile, Romero's wife Veronica Rodriguez reportedly said her husband had regularly received threats over his work, the latest being two weeks ago, which sometimes rubbed local government officials the wrong way.
International non-profit organisation 'Reporters Without Borders' said Romero received a phone call at 5 am on Thursday, informing him about some incident at a local nightclub called the Gotta Gentleman Club.
Although Romero had four bodyguards provided by the government, he had sent them home at 10 pm the night before, the organisation said in a statement.
Romero, who also had a panic button to alert the authorities if his life was in danger, went without them to the club. His body was found an hour later.
Witnesses said he was beaten and shot twice in the face, the organisation added.
Romero was under an official protection programme for journalists since 2018, according to Balbina Flores, Mexico director for Reporters Without Borders.
The government programme provides different kinds of security to under threat journalists and human rights activists, ranging from panic buttons to home surveillance to bodyguards.
Reporters Without Borders said the killing officially made Mexico the deadliest country in the world for journalists so far this year.
Five journalists have been killed in the country in 2019. Across Mexico, more than 100 have been murdered since 2000. The vast majority of those killings remain unpunished.
Last year, the watchdog group ranked the country the third most dangerous in the world for the press, after Afghanistan and Syria. (ANI)