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Journalist assassinated in Valencia, recently covered drug trafficking cases

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is dismayed by the 16 January 2009 fatal shooting of Orel Zambrano, the editor of the political weekly "ABC", in Valencia, in the north-central state of Carabobo. Zambrano was also vice-president of the privately-owned Radio América 890 AM radio station and a columnist for the regional daily "Notitarde", as well as being a lawyer.

His murder came just three days after the attempted murder of Rafael Finol of the privately-owned daily "El Regional", who was grazed by a bullet.

"We offer our condolences to Zambrano's family and colleagues, and we hope the investigators will quickly identify those responsible for both this murder, the motive of which remains to be established, as well as the attempted murder of Finol," Reporters Without Borders said. "These two shooting attacks in the space of three days raise grave concerns about the safety of journalists. Zambrano may have been killed in reprisal for his recent coverage of a drug story. This possibility should be investigated."

Zambrano, 62, was gunned down at around 3:00 p.m. (local time) on 16 January. He had just got out of his car and was walking towards a movie rental store when he was intercepted by two men on a motorcycle, one of whom shot him three times at close range. He died on the spot from a gunshot to the head while his assailants fled.

Zambrano had recently covered several drug trafficking cases including one involving the Makled family, an influential business family in the region. Brothers Abdala, Alex and Basel Makled were arrested in possession of around 400 kilos of cocaine during a search of a family property on 14 November 2008 and are now the subject of an investigation by the national prosecutor's office.

For further information about the Finol case, see:

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