PUEBLA, Mexico – Authorities have identified a woman’s body dumped on a road in central Mexico as a reporter who was kidnapped by gunmen, the latest assault against a journalist in the country.
The bound and half-naked body of Anabel Flores Salazar was discovered on Tuesday with her head covered in bags in the state of Puebla, authorities said. An autopsy determined that Flores Salazar, a 32-year-old mother of two, died of asphyxiation.
She worked as a crime reporter for the newspaper El Sol de Orizaba in the neighboring eastern state of Veracruz.
The journalist vanished after an armed group wearing military-like clothes burst into her home in the town of Mariano Escobedo before dawn on Monday and took her away.
The Attorney General’s Office has asked the army to check whether soldiers went to her home on the day of the abduction. It is also looking for any possible surveillance camera footage of Flores Salazar’s abduction.
The case was assigned to investigators specializing in crimes against journalists.
“Authorities are following the case closely,” Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte Ochoa tweeted on Monday.
Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists, with 89 media workers killed and another 17 missing since 2000, according to press freedom group Reporters Without Borders.
Amnesty International called for a thorough investigation into Flores Salazar’s death and urged authorities to provide “protection for journalists and media workers working in incredibly dangerous conditions, particularly those who cover crime stories.”
“Failing to protect those who work to expose the grim reality of abuses in Mexico is akin to trying to sweep them under the carpet,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty’s Americas director.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has compiled an analysis and list of 35 journalists killed in Mexico since 1992. Review that study here.
This is how the CPJ described Flores Salazar’s kidnapping:
At least eight armed assailants dressed in what appeared to be military uniforms forced their way into Flores Salazar’s home at about 2 a.m. Monday and went straight to her room, the journalist’s aunt Sandra Luz Salazar, who was in the house at the time, told CPJ in a telephone interview. The assailants claimed they had a warrant for the reporter’s arrest, pointed weapons at family members, then forced Flores Salazar into one of three gray trucks outside, Luz Salazar said.
In the same story, Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, responded to the killing by saying, “The administration of Governor Javier Duarte Ochoa has a dismal record of impunity and has been incapable and unwilling to prosecute crimes against the press.”
Just last year, photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, social activist Nadia Vera and three other women were found dead with their hands bound and their bodies bearing signs of torture in a Mexico City apartment on July 31, 2015. Espinosa, 31, and Vera, 32, also had worked in the eastern state of Veracruz but had taken refuge in the country’s capital after receiving threats.
Their killing was determined to have been a professional hit and prompted Salman Rushdie, Paul Aster and other prominent writers to demand the Mexican president address the country’s terrible record on protecting journalists.
In an open letter signed by more than 500 prominent people addressed to President Enrique Peña Nieto, the group stated that, “An attempt on the life of a journalist is an attack on society’s very right to be informed.”