Nine dead after attacks on Mexican mayoral candidates | Nation/World

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 one was injured, during the assaults Saturday evening and early Sunday in the municipalities of Villa Corzo and Mapastepec, the statement said.

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 miner and mayoral candidate Lucero López, were killed in an ambush after an election rally in the municipality of La Concordia, neighboring Villa Corzo.

More than twenty political leaders have been killed since September last year, according to the NGO Data Civica.

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.

– Cartel rivalry –

In Mapastepec, the attackers targeted the procession of mayoral candidate Nicolas Noriega, who escaped unscathed, although five other people were killed and two people injured.

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 activities such as extortion.

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

str-axm/mlr/nro