Mexican Journalist Kidnapped and Killed

A news reporter who wrote about violent drug crimes has been strangled in the northern Mexican state of Durango, authorities said Tuesday.

El Tiempo de Durango journalist Jose Bladimir Antuna was kidnapped Monday morning, said Ruben Lopez, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office. Authorities found his body that night in a vacant lot in the state capital, about 400 miles southwest of Laredo, Texas.

State authorities are investigating the murder. Lopez would not specify whether they suspected connections with organized crime.

But Antuna had told his colleagues at the newspaper that he had received multiple telephone death threats, El Tiempo's business manager Fernando Mendoza told The Associated Press. And Mendoza said investigators found a message beside Antuna's body, claiming he was killed for giving information to the military.

Antuna filed a complaint with the state Attorney General's Office five months ago, saying gunmen had fired at his house. Lopez said investigators concluded that the gunfire was not aimed at Antuna, and that stray bullets from a fight outside had struck his house.

Antuna had worked for El Tiempo de Durango for nearly two years, Mendoza said.

Several international media watchdog groups say Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for journalists, especially those covering drug crimes.

In May, gunmen killed a columnist for El Tiempo de Durango who was also a criminal defense lawyer.

France-based Reporters Without Borders issued a statement on Tuesday complaining that Durango state authorities knew Antuna was receiving death threats but failed to protect him.

"It is unacceptable. Durango state, a bastion of organized crime where there is complete impunity, has become a torment for those defending a free press and openness in news and information," the statement said.

At least eight journalists have been killed in Mexico in 2009, according to an October report from Mexico's National Center for Social Communication.

Also Tuesday, police said the bodies of three men with bullet and knife wounds were found by relatives in the southern state of Guerrero.

The state Public Safety Department said the bodies were found Monday in a mountainous area east of the state capital, Chilpancingo.

The motive is still under investigation. The mountains of Guerrero state have been plagued by violence associated with land disputes, drug trafficking and politics.