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Journalist killed in Honduras

13:31 Mon Mar 12 2012

A 54-year-old Honduran journalist has been killed by a machete-wielding attacker - the 18th fatal attack on a member of the news media in the past two years.

Police say Fausto Evelio Hernandez, was riding his bicycle on his way home on Saturday when he was attacked in Saba, some 600km north of the capital.

Deputy police commissioner Osmin Bardales told AFP that the journalist, who was an on-air announced for Radio Alegre, "tried to put his arm out (to defend himself) against the first machete blow and had it nearly severed".

The attacker then let loose with nine fierce machete blows to the victim's head, the police official said.

The motive did not appear to be robbery because Hernandez was discovered with all his possessions, Bardales added.

The official said there were witnesses but they would not help identify the attacker.

A total of 18 journalists have been murdered in Honduras in the last two years.

The attack came on the same day the United Nations said Honduras was the world's deadliest nation, with a murder rate around 70 times higher than Australia's.

"In 2011 alone, the number of deaths in Honduras soared to 7,104 or one person killed every 74 minutes," a National Human Rights Commission annual report in the Central American country of just over eight million found.

The World Health Organisation says the normal homicide rate is 8.8 per 10,000 inhabitants; in recent years, Honduras' murder rate has been as high as 10 times the "normal" rate.

Australia, by comparison, had a murder rate of only 1.16 per 10,000 people in 2010. Monaco, Iceland and Japan were the three safest countries.