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Paraguayan journalist shot to death along Brazil border

AP  |  Asuncion 

A Paraguayan radio journalist has been shot to death in a Brazilian city bordering a crime-ridden area that is a hotbed for drugs and arms smuggling, officials have said.

Gerardo Servian worked for a local radio station near the city of Pedro Juan Caballero. He was shot nine times on a street in Ponta Pora by unidentified gunmen who escaped in a motorcycle, police chief Walter Vazquez said yesterday.

The victim's brother Francisco said Servian had never received death threats and he had recently moved to Ponta Pora because his daughters attend a school in the Brazilian city.

But "in this area of the country it's normal to silence journalists with gunshots," added the brother, who is also a journalist.

Four other journalists have been killed since the start of last year while working along the porous and crime-ridden northern border with Brazil.

"The security situation in the country's northern area bordering Brazil is like something out of fiction. The state is weak. Drug dealers and other criminals set the pace throughout more than 370 miles (600 kilometers) of a lawless border," said Paraguayan political analyst Ignacio Martinez.

In a statement, Paraguay's press union said that "this new assault on the life of a press worker shows the urgent need to end the impunity."

The Committee to Protect Journalists also condemned the killing.

"The Paraguayan-Brazilian border has become one of the most dangerous regions for journalists in the Western hemisphere," said Sara Rafsky, CPJ's Americas program research associate, from New York. "Authorities from both countries must come together to fully investigate the murder of Gerardo Ceferino Servían Coronel and bring those responsible to justice to demonstrate that they will not allow the press to be terrorized."

The group said Servian had been hosting a morning show at Ciudad Nueva FM, a small community radio station based in Zanja Pyta, a small Paraguayan town.

Anti-drug chief Luis Rojas has estimated more than 100 gangs, made up of Paraguayan and Brazilian drug dealers, operate in Paraguay's northern region.

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First Published: Sat, March 07 2015. 06:48 IST