Brazil police
Brazil has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Reuters

Paulo Rodrigues, the editor-in-chief of a newspaper in southwestern Brazil, was the second journalist to be murdered in the country in the past four days.

Rodrigues, 51, was the editor of the Jornal da Praca newspaper and the Mercosul News Web site. He was driving through the town of Ponta Pora on Sunday when he was shot five times by gunmen who fled on a motorcycle. The editor was taken to a hospital, where he died early Monday morning.

The shooting comes just days after Mario Randolfo Marques Lopes was kidnapped and subsequently shot to death in Rio de Janeiro state.

The state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where Rodrigues was killed, is situated in the violent border region between Brazil and Paraguay and is a hotbed of drug and guns trafficking.

I don't think a drug trafficker is responsible for this -- they don't really have the power nor would they want the attention. Whoever did this is either an idiot or is new to the area and trying to show off some power, Leo Veras, a photojournalist who worked with Rodrigues, told The Associated Press.

Like Marques Lopes's work, Rodrigues' paper focused on exposing government corruption, and was known for being critical of the mayor of Campo Grande.

Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world -- 12th highest in 2010 with 25 murders per 100,000 inhabitants -- and has plunged 41 places on Reporters Without Borders' (RWB) press freedom index this year.

“Is Brazil going to become as dangerous as Mexico or Colombia? No region of the country has been spared this tragic violence, RWB stated. The possibility that the two most recent murders were acts of political revenge needs to be explored.”

Rodrigues' colleagues are skeptical that the editor was killed for his work, but a number of journalists have been killed in Brazil in the past few years, including Marques Lopes and at least six others in 2011.

“Coverage of sensitive political issues, especially at the local level, continues to expose journalists to danger, RWB said in a similar statement after the death of Marques Lopes.