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Nine more people killed in attacks on political candidates as Mexico’s pre-election death toll rises

Nine people were killed in two attacks on mayoral candidates in Mexico’s June elections in the southern state of Chiapas, the prosecutor’s office in the organized crime-plagued region said on Sunday.

The two candidates, although both were injured, survived the attacks on Saturday evening and early Sunday in the municipalities of Villa Corzo and Mapastepec, a statement said.

The attack in Mapastepec targeted the car driven by Nicolás Noriega, who is on the run from leading the municipal government. Noriega confirmed the attack to The Associated Press, saying he was injured and at least five people from his campaign were fatally shot.

Morena, who was under the country’s ruling party, did not add more details and was noticeably shaken after the attack. Photos shared by local media showed a red truck riddled 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 taken in a cowardly way. Evil will never prevail in our hearts, because there are more of us who love life, who remember to do good ” Noriega wrote on Facebook. Sunday. “I ask all of society to unite to honor life.”

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The attacks marked an escalation of violence in Chiapas against politicians planning to win office in the June 2 elections, when Mexicans will also elect a new president.

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

According to the NGO Data Civica, more than 20 politicians have been murdered since September last year – including a mayoral hopeful. shot dead last month just as she started campaigning.

If family members and other victims of those attacks are included, the death toll rises to more than fifty people.

Prosecutors said the attack in Villa Corzo targeted a motorcade carrying Mayor Robertony Orozco, who is seeking re-election to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s Morena party.

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

Orozco was shot in both legs, the statement said.

Mexican president denies Chiapas is on fire

More than 450,000 people have been murdered in Mexico since the government of then-President Felipe Calderon launched a controversial military offensive against drug cartels in 2006.

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The murder rate has since almost tripled to 23 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.

Many Mexicans see insecurity as the most pressing challenge for the next government, according to surveys.

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

The cartels are fighting over drug trafficking routes and control over other criminal enterprises, such as extortion.

Mapastepec is an important strategic area due to its proximity to the Pacific coast.

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

That is also the same area where Morena’s presidential candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, was in April intercepted by masked men during a tour along the Guatemalan border.

Candidates in Mexico 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 three Mexican states with the highest level of electoral violence, with 55 victims so far, according to Mexican consultancy Integralia. It follows only Guerrero and Michoacán, two states at the heart of the Mexican cartel war.

The wave of violence in Chiapas proved embarrassing for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador when he visited the border state on Friday to meet with Guatemalan President Bernardo Arévalo. López Obrador.

Obrador has refused to confront the drug cartels and has largely minimized the problem of violence.

“There are people who claim that Chiapas is on fire. No, as I explained, the problem is in this region and we are going to solve it,” Obrador said Friday during a news briefing in Tapachula, Chiapas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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