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9 more people killed in attacks on political candidates as violence escalates days before Mexico election

Two attacks on mayoral candidates during Mexico’s June elections left nine people dead in the southern state of Chiapas, the prosecutor’s office in the region plagued by organized crime announced Sunday.

Both candidates survived, although both were injured, during the assaults Saturday evening and early Sunday in the municipalities of Villa Corzo and Mapastepec, the statement said.

The attack in Mapastepec targeted the car driving Nicolás Noriega, candidate for head of the municipal government. Noriega confirmed the attack to The Associated Press and said he was injured and at least five people from his campaign were shot and killed.

A candidate for the country’s ruling party, Morena did not add further details and was visibly shaken after the attack. Photos shared by local media showed a red truck peppered with bullet holes and bloodied bodies lying in the trunk and on the ground.

“I deeply mourn the death of my friends, whose lives were cowardly taken. Evil will never reign in our hearts, because more of us love life, think about doing good,” Noriega said on Facebook . Sunday. “I ask all of society to unite to honor life.”

The attacks mark an escalation of violence in Chiapas against politicians who intend to run in elections on June 2, when Mexicans will also elect a new president.

Last week, six people, including a minor and a candidate for mayor Lucero Lopez, were killed in an ambush after a campaign rally in the municipality of La Concordia, neighboring Villa Corzo.

More than twenty politicians have been killed since September last year, according to the NGO Data Civica, including a mayoral candidate who was shot last month just as she was starting her campaign.

The death toll rises to more than 50 people if we count relatives and other victims of these attacks.

The prosecutor’s office said the Villa Corzo attack targeted a motorcade carrying Mayor Robertony Orozco, who was seeking re-election for President Andres Manuel López Obrador’s Morena party.

Three people died in the attack and another later in hospital.

Orozco was shot in both legs, the release said.

Mexican president denies that “Chiapas is on fire”

Spiraling criminal violence has seen more than 450,000 people murdered in Mexico since the government of President Felipe Calderon launched a controversial military offensive against drug cartels in 2006.

Since then, the homicide rate has almost tripled to 23 cases per 100,000 residents.

Many Mexicans view insecurity as the most pressing challenge for the next government, polls show.

Election campaigns in Chiapas are often violent, but the situation has deteriorated due to a war between the Jalisco New Generation and Sinaloa cartels in an area known as La Frailesca, which includes Villa Corzo and La Concordia.

Cartels fight for drug trafficking routes and control of other criminal enterprises such as extortion.

Mapastepec constitutes a key strategic area due to its proximity to the Pacific coast.

Last week, 11 people were killed during mass shootings in a village in the municipality of Chicomuselo, Chiapas.

This is also the same area where, in April, Morena’s presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, visited intercepted by masked men during a visit to the Guatemalan border.

Mexican candidates face threats
Candidate Willy Ochoa’s security convoy, formed by National Guard patrols, state police and private security, leaves the municipality of Las Rosas, Chiapas, Mexico. May 6, 2024.

Victoria Razo for the Washington Post via Getty Images

Due to its strategic location, Chiapas is one of the three Mexican states with the highest levels of electoral violence, with 55 victims so far, according to Mexican consultancy Integralia. It trails only Guerrero and Michoacán, two states at the heart of Mexico’s cartel war.

The surge in violence in Chiapas proved embarrassing for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador as he traveled to the border state on Friday for a meeting with Guatemalan President Bernardo Arévalo. Lopez Obrador.

Obrador has refused to take on drug cartels and has largely downplayed the problem of violence.

“There are those who argue that Chiapas is on fire, no, as I explained, the problem is in this region and we are going to solve it,” Obrador said during a press conference in Tapachula, Chiapas , Friday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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