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Local newspaper reporter gunned down in Michoacán state for motives not yet determined

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is outraged at the murder of reporter Gerardo Israel García Pimentel, who was shot approximately 20 times on 8 December 2007 in the car park of the hotel in which he lived in Uruapan, in the western state of Michoacán. He worked for a Michoacán-based daily, "La Opinión de Michoacán", covering agriculture and occasionally crime. A brother and a cousin of his are reportedly missing.

"The motive for this terrible murder is still unknown but the way García Pimentel was apparently pursued before he was killed suggests he was personally targeted," RSF said. "Michoacán is one of the states that has been hardest hit by violence against the press, above all because of its powerful drug cartels. We extend our condolences to García's family and we urge the authorities to take the case seriously and to explore the possibility that he was killed in connection with his work."

García Pimentel's body was found by emergency services in the stairway of the car park of the hotel in which he lived. He had been shot about 20 times with an assault rifle and a revolver. The evidence suggests he was pursued by at least two gunmen and that he tried to seek refuge in the hotel. The next day, the local press reported that a brother and a cousin of García Pimentel were missing.

Senior staff at the newspaper told RSF that he "basically covered agricultural stories and sometimes breaking news, but only occasionally." He also wrote about "politics, social issues and, sporadically, crime, but he was not the only one to cover crime; there were three or four," one of his editors said.

His fellow journalists said they had no idea what the motive was: "He was a quiet person; we were not aware of his having any problems," one of them said.

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