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Journalists killed on World Press Freedom Day

Two journalists were gunned down in the Americas on World Press Freedom Day (3 May), a stark reminder of the dangers journalists face to keep us informed, say the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the International Press Institute (IPI) and other IFEX members.

Julio Castillo Narváez, presenter of Radio Ollantay's main news programme, died instantly after being shot at least six times by four individuals in a restaurant in the northern city of Virú, Peru, reports Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS). The police believe a local government official may be implicated.

According to IPYS, Castillo was known for his criticism of local authorities. Local media reported that Castillo had received repeated threats since March, including from individuals linked to the regional government, for airing corruption allegations. According to IPI, investigators reportedly said that Castillo's mobile phone held a message threatening other journalists with death.

After one of his recent reports on a local politician resulted in vandalism at the station, Radio Ollantay requested police protection for both Castillo and the station. Police did not provide any, IPYS said.

A recent report by Peru's National Journalists' Association says it has already registered at least 82 acts of violence or intimidation against the country's journalists in 2011.

Meanwhile, in the town of Rio Claro, in southeastern Brazil, Valério Nascimento was shot to death outside his home, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and other IFEX members. In recent days he had accused authorities in the neighbouring town of Bananal of failing to invest in health and sewage treatment centres, reports IPI.

As well as owning and editing the local newspaper "Panorama Geral", Nascimento was also active in local politics. Police have not ruled out a political motive.

"What makes these murders even that much more tragic is that while press freedom advocates around the world united to recognise World Press Freedom Day, these hard-working journalists were being gunned down in their homelands," said IPI.

Nascimento is the second journalist to have been killed this year in Brazil. Luciano Leitão Pedrosa, a radio reporter and TV producer who covered organised crime, was fatally shot on 9 April in Vitória de Santo Antão, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, says Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

And in Rio de Janeiro in March, the blogger Ricardo Gama only just survived an attempt on his life, says RSF. His blog often dealt with sensitive political stories.

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