A Maltese investigative journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was killed after a powerful bomb blew up her car Monday, reports said. She was known for exposing the island nation's ties with offshore tax havens through the leaked Panama Papers.

Galizia had just left her house in Mosta — a town on Malta's main island — when the bomb detonated sending her car's wreckage spiraling into an adjacent field, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said, according to the Time. 

In a statement released the same day, Muscat expressed shock at the killing, and said: "I condemn without reservations this barbaric attack on a person and on the freedom of expression in our country."

"Everyone is aware that Ms. Caruana Galizia was one of my harshest critics, politically and personally, as she was for others too. However, I can never use, in any way, this fact to justify, in any possible way, this barbaric act that goes against civilization and all dignity," he added.

Muscat also said the police and national security will take "every step necessary in the investigations to ensure the guilty party is brought to justice."

Dutch forensic experts were scheduled to arrive in Bidnija — a rural hamlet between Mosta, St. Paul's Bay and Mġarr — on Tuesday morning to start investigating into the car bomb murder. They would be joined later by investigators from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Times of Malta reported.

Around the crime scene, a police perimeter had also been set up around a wide area, the publication said. While the scene of the crime appeared to have been left the way it was during the attack, few tents were erected a few meters away from the mangled remains of the car and the body.

Some media outlets said reports of threats against the journalist and the blogger were lodged at Mosta Police Station in the last two weeks. However, the police denied the claims, according to The Times of Malta. 

Less than an hour before Galizia's murder, she wrote on her news blog Running Commentary: "There are crooks everywhere you look now. The situation is desperate." 

Galizia's blog was so popular and influential that it almost led to a political crisis when she accused Muscat's wife of deriving benefits from a secret Panamanian shell company.

However, Muscat had denied the allegations and even called a snap election in June, which was when his Labor Party won, and he got a second term, The New York Times reported.

Her blog attracted up to 400,000 readers "on a good day" despite the fact that Malta's population is under 450,000, Politico EU claimed, according to abc.net.au.

She began her journalistic career as a columnist with the Sunday Times of Malta in 1987 and later became an associate editor of The Malta Independent. She kept writing columns for the publication even after she stepped down from that role, abc.net.au reported.