The body of a kidnapped journalist was found Thursday in the eastern Mexican state of Veracruz, where nine members of the media have been murdered in the past 18 months, state officials said.

Victor Baez, a police reporter for the Milenio Xalapa newspaper and partner in the reporterospoliciacos Web site, was abducted on Wednesday night.

Baez's body was found in a busy street in downtown Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz state.

The reporter's body was discovered around 6:00 a.m. in Centro, a neighborhood that is home to the offices of three of Xalapa's newspapers, Veracruz state government spokeswoman Gina Dominguez said.

Baez was kidnapped around 11:40 p.m. outside the Web site's office by three gunmen, Dominguez said.

Baez's murder "is an affront to the journalism profession, and it seeks to intimidate society and push back against a government determined to fight" crime, the state spokeswoman said.

The government of Veracruz will continue to fight crime and work to ensure that the reporter's murder does not go unpunished, Dominguez said, adding that she had been friends with Baez for many years.

Dominguez said Baez told her a few days ago that people should not live in fear.

"We cannot let them impose fear on us as a way of life," the state government spokeswoman said Baez told her.

Nine journalists have been murdered in Veracruz since December 2010, when Javier Duarte, of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, became governor.

Photojournalists Gabriel Huge, Esteban Rodriguez and Guillermo Luna were murdered and dismembered on May 3 in the Gulf port of Veracruz.

Regina Martinez, Proceso magazine's correspondent in Veracruz, was murdered on April 28. Martinez was beaten and strangled in her house.

Journalists Noel Lopez Olguin and Yolanda Ordaz de la Cruz, as well as Miguel Angel Lopez Velasco and his son, Misael Lopez Solana, who was also a reporter, were murdered last year in the state.

The federal government launched "Operation Safe Veracruz" last October in an effort to stem the wave of drug-related violence in the Gulf state, where a turf war between rival drug cartels has sent the murder rate skyrocketing.

The Gulf, Los Zetas and Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana organization, are fueling the violence in the state.

Veracruz, Mexico's third-most populous state, is coveted as a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States.

Mexico, where 78 journalists have been murdered since 2000, is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for members of the media.

Last Friday, Stephania Cardoso, a police reporter for the daily El Zocalo in Saltillo, the capital of the northern state of Coahuila, and her 2-year-old son disappeared.

"Cardoso's disappearance comes less than three weeks after a crime journalist in Sonora, Marco Antonio Avila Garcia, was kidnapped and later found tortured and killed," the Vienna-based International Press Institute, or IPI, and the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, or WAN-IFRA, said in a statement released earlier this week.

The police reporter is the 15th journalist to disappear in Mexico since 2000 and the second reporter to go missing in Coahuila, the Foundation for Freedom of Expression, or Fundalex, said in a statement.

Rafael Ortiz, another reporter for the Zocalo newspaper, disappeared on July 8, 2006, the Fundalex said. EFE