A woman holding a baby walks past a mural reading "Stop killing journalists" in Mexico City

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A woman holding a baby walks past a mural reading “Stop killing journalists” in Mexico City – Copyright AFP JACK GUEZ

A journalist has been murdered in northwestern Mexico, authorities and activists said Thursday — the ninth such killing so far in a particularly violent year for the country’s press.

The body of Luis Enrique Ramirez was found on a dirt road in Sinaloa, the state’s attorney general Sara Quinonez said on Twitter.

Sinaloa is the stronghold of notorious narco kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman’s cartel, and one of the Mexican states most affected by drug-related violence.

The body of Ramirez, a columnist for the local newspaper El Debate and founder of the news site Fuentes Fidedignas, was found on the outskirts of the state capital Culiacan, a day after he went missing.

“It was definitely a murder,” said Balbina Flores, representative of media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), adding that the corpse was found wrapped in plastic.

Ramirez is the ninth journalist killed so far this year in Mexico, according to RSF.

The Latin American nation is on course for one of its deadliest years yet for the press, prompting calls from rights groups for authorities to end a culture of impunity.

More than 150 journalists have been murdered since 2000 in Mexico, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media.

The United States and the European Parliament have urged Mexico to ensure adequate protection for journalists following the recent string of killings.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has vowed “zero impunity” for the crimes.

Last week the government blamed drug traffickers for the January murders of journalists Lourdes Maldonado and Margarito Martinez in the northwestern border city of Tijuana that triggered international condemnation.

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