An Irish tourist was shot dead during a car-jacking in Mexico after stopping to ask for directions to the beach.

The 29-year-old man, who was travelling with his American girlfriend, pulled into a petrol station at Lazaro Cardenas in the Pacific coastal state of Michoacan, to ask the way to the seafront.

Witnesses said they were approached by two men, who demanded they hand over their rented white Ford pick-up.

One of the men then tried to grab the woman's handbag, prompting her companion to try and protect her.

He was then shot several times, dragged from the vehicle and dumped by the side of the road.

The carjackers then fled in the pick-up, leaving the couple at the scene. Paramedics attended the scene and the woman was treated in hospital.

The general prosecutor for Michoacan State said they believed the Irishman died "defending his girlfriend".

The man has not yet been named but he is believed to have come from County Louth, on the west coast of Ireland.

The shooting happened last Tuesday (8 August), but details of the incident have only just emerged. Local authorities initially misidentified the victim as Swiss, but after further investigation contacted the Irish embassy in Mexico.

His American girlfriend was from Arizona and the pair had met online three months before and began a relationship. It is believed this was their first trip away together.

Ireland's department of Foreign Affairs said it is aware of the case and is providing consular assistance.

In recent years, Michoacan has suffered some of the worst drug-related violence which has plagued Mexico.

Extortion and assassinations became so widespread, armed civilian militias were deputised by the government to combat the dominant Knights Templar cartel. But even some of these militias have themselves been implicated in drug trafficking.