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Honduran journalist killing makes 8 for the year

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Israel Zelaya Diaz was found shot to death in San Pedro Sula
  • At least eight journalists have been killed in Honduras this year
  • Zelaya worked for broadcaster Radio International
  • International press advocacy groups call on authorities to investigate

(CNN) -- A Honduran reporter was found shot to death Tuesday in the city of San Pedro Sula, making him at least the eighth journalist killed in the country this year.

Unidentified gunmen shot Israel Zelaya Diaz twice in the head and once in the chest, according to local press reports. Zelaya worked for broadcaster Radio International. He had last been seen earlier Tuesday.

"It is a very deep hurt in my heart because it leaves a hole in me, I'm left helpless, I'm left alone," said his daughter, Angie Gabriela Zelaya. "I feel very bad because of everything that is happening in the country and the authorities must investigate the death of my father because this cannot stand."

Zelaya worked as a journalist for more than 20 years and reported on national issues during his radio show.

International press freedom organizations expressed alarm at the killing of another journalist in Honduras.

"While the motive behind the attack on Mr. Zelaya is not yet known, we would like to again underscore the fact that Honduras has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists," said Anthony Mills, press freedom manager at the International Press Institute. "It is vital that the authorities fully investigate the killings, so that a culture of impunity is not allowed to thrive."

The Committee to Protect Journalists said Zelaya's killing makes eight journalists killed this year. The International Press Institute put that figure at nine.

According to a Committee to Protect Journalists report released last month, the killings of journalists in Honduras have not been seriously investigated by authorities, creating an atmosphere of lawlessness and impunity.

All eight journalists were shot, and there is evidence that at least three were killed because of their work as journalists, the New York-based organization said.

"Honduran authorities must swiftly investigate Zelaya's murder, and bring all those responsible to justice," said Carlos Laurķa, Committee to Protect Journalists' senior program coordinator for the Americas. "With eight journalists now dead this year, the government must commit to thoroughly investigating all the cases, which up to now it has failed to do."

Carlos Rodriguez, a co-worker of Zelaya's, said it was unclear whether he was killed for his work.

"Israel never specifically told me about having death threats for a criticism or analysis that we made on the radio program we both worked on for a long time.It's unknown whether or not that was the cause."

The surge in the killings of journalists comes as the country is mending its social and political fabric after last year's coup that ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya.

Journalist Elvin Sandoval contributed to this report.