The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists is urging Mexico's government to swiftly investigate the recent murder of a local newspaper owner and bring those responsible to justice.

The CPJ was responding to the death of Jose Alberto Velazquez Lopez, who owned the Expresiones de Tulum newspaper in the southeastern state of Quintana Roo. 

In a statement Thursday, the media rights group said Velazquez was traveling in his car late Tuesday when a gunman on a motorcycle shot the journalist, hitting him twice.  Velazquez died in a Cancun hospital. 

Newspaper officials also tell the CPJ they believe Velazquez's death was linked to his criticism of local authorities and that it was well-known in Tulum that he and the city's mayor, Marciano Dzul Caamal, were enemies. 

Velazquez had written several articles accusing Mayor Dzul of corruption.  The CPJ says the mayor could not immediately be reached for comment.

The newspaper's deputy editor, Luis Gamboa, told the CPJ that the paper had received several anonymous phone calls threatening death in recent months and that its printing press had been firebombed in November.

Gamboa also said Velazquez stopped reporting on local politics following an alleged phone call in which the mayor threatened Velazquez.

The CPJ statement says Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries for the press and that since 1992, 17 journalists have been slain in direct reprisal for their work. 

The media rights group also says that since 2005, eight journalists have disappeared.  Most covered government corruption or organized crime.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.