Honduran international footballer Arnold Peralta has been shot dead while on holiday in his hometown.
He was killed in the car park of a shopping centre in La Ceiba, on the country’s Caribbean coast. The motive for the attack is unclear.
The 26-year-old midfielder for Olimpia, in the capital Tegucigalpa, played for Scottish giants Rangers until January.
Honduras is plagued by gang violence and has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Peralta had complained about violence in his homeland in a tweet late last year.
He wrote: “How difficult it is for our country with so many criminals killing every so often, as though killing was in fashion! These types of people don’t deserve to be alive.”
“This is terrible,” his father Carlos told a news conference. “They killed my exemplary son. I can’t say more because of the pain I feel.”
His Honduras team-mate Boniek Garcia tweeted (in Spanish): “Rest in peace brother, God receive you in Heaven, you will stay in our hearts. Support and strength to the family.”
There will be a minute’s silence held before Rangers’ game against Morton on Saturday, Peralta’s former club said in a statement on its website.
“The players will also wear black armbands in his honour”, it added.
Officials from the public ministry told the local El Heraldo newspaper that Peralta had been hit by 18 bullets.
- Represented Honduras at the 2012 Olympic Games in London but missed the 2014 Brazil World Cup through injury
- His first club was Honduran side Vida, who he joined after making his name in local leagues
- Joined Rangers in June 2013, spending 18 months with the side and helping them win the 2013-14 Scottish League One title
- Played latterly for Honduran side Olimpia
Osman Madrid, director of the Honduran football federation, said it was a “tragic death that the national sport mourns”.
No arrests have been made. Police ruled out robbery as a possible motive because Peralta had not had his belongings taken.