Mexican Journalist Javier Valdez Cárdenas Assassinated

Javier Valdez was shot and killed when assailants opened fire on his auto in the state capital Culiacan, according to RioDoce, the local media outlet he co-founded and where he continued to work.

Valdez was the fifth journalist to be killed this year in a country plagued by violence related to drug gangs, according to officials and media rights groups.

"Forensic staff are at the scene at this very moment carrying out technical analyses".

Valdez is at least the sixth journalist to be murdered in Mexico since early March.

"Rapid and transparent investigations are necessary to bring the perpetrators of all these crimes to justice" the European Union said in a statement that demanded Mexico see the "end of impunity in cases of crimes against journalists and activists". His death marks the latest in a string of journalist killings.

"The gunmen, who the paper say appeared to be drugged, roughed up some of the reporters then stole their cameras, cellphones, and other personal effects".

Over a almost 30-year career, Valdez became one of the most renowned journalists in Sinaloa.

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On Tuesday, the front pages of the country's major newspapers carried pictures of Valdez as journalists demonstrated in the centre of the capital, Mexico City. "It's also home to the Sinaloa cartel, which until recently was headed by Joaquin "Chapo" Guzman" - the infamous drug lord who, after a high-profile escape and recapture, has been extradited to the USA and is awaiting trial. "Even though you may have bullet-proofing and bodyguards, [the gangs] will decide what day they are going to kill you", BBC reported. His arrest sparked a fierce power struggle for control of the cartel. HE was also a correspondent for other outlets, notably La Jornada daily newspaper and Agence France Presse.

"Mexico has become more unsafe in general over the past year, and that is affecting the way there is more fighting", Mexican security analyst Alejandro Hope said.

He was known for his smile and white Panama hat.

"The better you do journalism and the more passionate you get, the lonelier you get". The 50-year-old journalist was the recipient of the International Press Freedom Award given by the Committee to Protect Journalists in 2011.

Valdez's most recent book, "Narcoperiodismo" (Narco-journalism), addresses the challenges of practicing journalism in a region ruled by drug-traffickers.

He also published titles about women's and children's experiences of drug violence.

At the time, the CPJ said 38 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1992.

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