RIO DE JANEIRO — Gunmen have killed the financial director of a Brazilian newspaper known for its denunciations of corruption and organized crime groups, police said Thursday.

Four hooded gunmen shot Jose Roberto Ornelas de Lemos of the Hora H newspaper 44 times as he was drinking beer in a bakery shop on Tuesday in the town of Nova Iguacu near Rio de Janeiro.

"The newspaper is known for its combative stance against corrupt politicians and policemen, but I don't know if that is why they killed him," Marco Aurelio of the Rio de Janeiro Journalists Union said by phone.

Police inspector Marcos Henrique de Oliveira Alves told the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper that police suspect Lemos was killed because of the newspaper's work.

The newspaper also quoted Lemos' brother Luciano as saying, "The death threats against him were frequent because the newspaper attacks police, politicians and crime groups."

Repeated calls to the police and the newspaper for more details and comment went unanswered.

"We urge the police, who are already investigating the murder, to do everything possible to establish the motive," Reporters Without Borders said in a statement "They must not rule out the possibility that it was linked to his work as a journalist."

The media rights group said Ornelas was the fourth Brazilian journalist to be killed this year.

"He was the victim of a murder that is probably or definitely connected with his work. Brazil continues to be the Western Hemisphere's deadliest country for journalists in 2013," the statement said.

The group said in an earlier report on Brazil that five journalists and bloggers were murdered in 2012 in connection with their work, "making Brazil the world's fifth deadliest country for media personnel."