A Colombian journalist, who mainly investigated corruption cases, was murdered on Sunday in a northeastern Colombian city on the border with Venezuela, where a total of at least nine murders were committed late last week, sources said.

Jaime Vazquez, 54, was a journalist, lawyer and campaigner known for “exposing corruption” in the region, Colombian President Gustavo Petro said via X (formerly Twitter).

President Petros ordered an “in-depth investigation” to arrest the perpetrators.

Evidence and videos of surveillance circuits published by Colombian media confirm that Jaime Vasquez was murdered on Sunday, inside a commercial store in Cucuta, in front of at least ten witnesses.

As part of the investigation, the journalist’s mobile phone, which was allegedly tampered with by “public officials after his death”, added Mr. Petros.

Relatives of the deceased confirmed that his account on the WhatsApp platform was used after the crime.

The deceased was “dedicated” to “investigating and highlighting in the public debate issues that many prefer not to talk about,” Jonathan Mojica, a friend of Jaime Vasquez, emphasized yesterday in an interview with a national radio network.

Through Facebook, the journalist made broadcasts in which he exposed illegalities in public contracts and abuses of power by local authorities.

“He was constantly receiving threats” because of his revelations, Mr. Mohica said.

The Colombian Foundation for Freedom of the Press (FLIP) condemned the killing and called for a “quick and thorough investigation”.

“The work of Jaime Vázquez, which revealed irregularities in public contracts and acts of corruption, had made him very well known” to the citizens, also emphasized this institution, which counts 167 murders of journalists since 2006.

According to FLIP data, 163 journalists announced that they received threats in 2023.

The day before Sunday, Colombia’s attorney general’s office reported via X that the perpetrator of the murder, after repeatedly shooting the journalist and activist, “escaped on a motorcycle.”

On Saturday, three more people were murdered inside a commercial shop in the same city, Koukouta. While, according to an AFP police source, who asked not to be named, a total of nine murders have been committed since the end of last week.

This area is home to many different gangs and armed organizations — far-right paramilitaries, the ELN (Army of National Liberation, Guberrists), as well as dissidents from the former FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) rebel group, which rejected the 2016 peace deal. and they have taken up arms again.