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By John Bartlett in Santiago
Women place a photograph of journalist Francisca Sandoval outside the Hospital of Urgencias y Asistencia Publica in Santiago, on 12 May.
Women place a photograph of journalist Francisca Sandoval outside the Hospital of Urgencias y Asistencia Publica in Santiago, on 12 May. Photograph: Martin Bernetti/AFP/Getty Images

A Chilean journalist who was shot in the head by a street trader while covering Workers’ Day marches on 1 May has died of her injuries.

Francisca Sandoval, 29, was reporting in Barrio Meiggs, a ramshackle market district in the centre of the capital, Santiago, when a group of men opened fire after a standoff with the marchers.

A bullet pierced Sandoval’s visor, leaving her fighting for her life in hospital. Two other journalists were injured in the shooting.

“Francisca didn’t leave us, they murdered her,” tweeted Señal 3 La Victoria, the independent media outlet Sandoval had been reporting for. “With these words we confirm the death of our dear Fran. We will miss you and will do everything possible to find the truth.”

Two days after the shooting, Marcelo Naranjo, 41, was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder, illegally carrying a firearm and unjustified discharge of a firearm in public. Following Sandoval’s death, Chile’s public prosecutor confirmed that the charges would be reviewed.

A Colombian and a Venezuelan citizen were also held under house arrest in connection with the incident.

Sandoval is the first journalist to be killed in the line of duty in Chile since the Pinochet dictatorship.

The last, José Carrasco, was kidnapped from his home 36 years ago in 1986, days after a failed attempt on the dictator’s life.

His body was found three hours later riddled with bullets - and so disfigured that even his wife was unable to properly identify it.

In 2022’s World Press Freedom Index, published earlier this month by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), Chile plummeted to 82nd place – although still the fifth highest-ranked in South America.

The report highlighted the overwhelming concentration of media ownership in Chile – a longstanding issue in the country, where two main groups dominate traditional media.

“Chile is living through a difficult period with regard to violence, and particularly violence towards media outlets,” said Carolina Muñoz, director of the University of Chile’s journalism faculty.

“This was evident during the protests in 2019, when we saw how journalists were hounded while carrying out their work, and we have also seen how groups formed to target journalists.”

Chile’s president, Gabriel Boric, 36, who had visited Sandoval’s family at hospital earlier in the week, lamented her death and vowed that those responsible would be held accountable.

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Dive Deeper:
Dark week for journalism as four reporters killed around the world
Journalists are increasingly being targeted and killings are only the most dramatic expression of a gloomy outlook for media freedom
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A prominent Palestinian-American Al Jazeera reporter was shot dead during an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday,…
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Shireen Abu Akleh, a veteran journalist, was shot dead while reporting on an Israeli raid in the occupied West Bank.
UN experts condemn Shireen Abu Akleh’s killing: Latest updates
UN human rights experts demand a prompt, transparent, thorough and independent investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing.
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
My Word: The story of Shireen Abu Akleh’s death
I can tell you who is being systematically targeted. It isn’t journalists, Palestinian or otherwise. It’s Israelis. Make that the…
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Get all your news in one place