BY AFP

Journalist shot dead in Honduras

 A journalist has been shot dead in northern Honduras, hospital officials said, becoming the 69th member of the media killed in the violence-plagued Central American country since 2003.

Igor Padilla, a reporter for the Canal Hable Como Habla (HCH) network, arrived at the hospital "already dead" with "several bullet wounds", according to doctor Arturo Bendana of a private clinic in San Pedro Sula, Honduras's second-biggest city and one of the world's most violent.

An unidentified cameraman who was with the reporter said that Padilla had stepped out to answer a phone call and was shot by men in police uniforms on Tuesday.

Eduardo Maldonado, director of the HCH channel, said that the reporter -- who covered police in the city -- was hit with some 20 bullets and demanded authorities investigate.

Security Minister Julian Pacheco told HCH that a team had been mobilized to probe the shooting death.

Since 2003, 69 media workers have been killed in Honduras, according to the National Human Rights Commission.

Only about four of those cases have been investigated by authorities.

The Violence Observatory of the National Autonomous University of Honduras estimates that the country's homicide rate is 60 per 100,000 inhabitants, six times the UN-established global average of 8.9.