Veteran Mexican journalist Javier Valdez is killed

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A Mexican journalist renowned for his coverage of organised crime was gunned down on Monday in the lawless state of Sinaloa, the fifth reporter killed in recent months in the country as authorities struggle to contain resurgent bloodshed among warring drug cartels.

Valdez, who specialized in covering drug trafficking and organized crime, was killed Monday when unidentified attackers opened fire on his vehicle in the city of Culiacan where he was working.

Mexican and foreign journalists paid homage to Valdez on social media, describing him as a courageous writer and generous friend whose killers must be brought to justice to deter future slayings.

Javier Valdez, an award-winning reporter who specialized in covering drug trafficking and organized crime, was slain Monday in the northern Mexico state of Sinaloa, the latest in a wave of journalist killings in one of the world's most risky countries for media workers. He wrote several books, such as Narcoperiodismo (Narcojournalism), and started an independent media outlet, Ríodoce, based in Sinaloa. He was a correspondent for a national newspaper, La Jornada, and also co-founded the respected Riodoce publication and authored several books delving into narcotrafficking and organized crime.

There is little information so far about who killed Valdez, or why. President Enrique Pena Nieto condemned what he called an "outrageous crime".

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Last weekend a group of reporters said a large group including children bearing semi-automatic weapons took their equipment while they covered unrest in the state of Guerrero. Out of the almost 800 complaints about assaults against journalists filed between 2010 and 2016, only three have resulted in guilty verdicts, according to government statistics reported by Mexican digital outlet Animal Político.

"I reiterate our commitment to freedom of expression and the press, fundamental for our democracy", he tweeted.

An award-winning local journalist and Agence France-Presse contributor who reported on violent drug gangs in northwestern Mexico was shot dead in the street Monday, a judicial source told AFP.

Mexico ranks third in the world for the number of journalists killed, after Syria and Afghanistan, according to media rights group Reporters Without Borders.

Its founder Joaquin Guzman, also known as "El Chapo" (Shorty), was captured is 2014 and is now in jail awaiting trial in the US.

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"Sinaloa, Valdez's home state is infamous in Mexico's drug world", Carrie says. "You have to assume the task that falls to you as a journalist — either that or you play dumb".

Hootson described Valdez as a warm, friendly man, well-liked by other journalists who frequently sought his help to navigate and understand the complex, risky state. "And in that sense, it's a huge loss for everybody".

Violence - including killings of journalists - surged in Mexico after the government launched a military campaign against drug gangs a decade ago.

"By not establishing a clear link to journalism or providing any motives for the killings most investigations remain opaque", the report said. Ricardo Sanchez Perez del Pozo, a lawyer with a background in worldwide law and human rights, took over the post.

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