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Nine ranchers dead in Mexico gang violence

Latest update : 2008-05-05

Nine people were killed by a group of around 60 gunmen on a ranch in the south of Mexico on Sunday, the latest in a series of organised crime attacks that killed at least 20 people over the weekend.

An organized crime wave took a turn for the deadlier at the weekend in Mexico, with at least 20 people killed in three incidents, most of whom died in southern Guerrero state at the hands of hitmen.
   
About 60 gunmen launched an attack on a ranch in Mexico's southern Guerrero state Sunday, killing nine people and leaving another six wounded, authorities said, the second such incident in two days.
   
The attack with automatic weapons took place in Petatlan, on the property of a prominent rancher.
   
"Early this morning (Sunday), shortly after midnight, some 60 gunmen launched an assault on the home of Rogaciano Alba Alvarez, head of the Guerrero Cattlemen's Association, with at least nine people killed and another six seriously injured," a state official told AFP.
   
Alba Alvarez was not among those killed.
   
Hitmen arrived at the Alba ranch in six pickup trucks and opened fire with AK-47s, killing the ranch workers before "they apparently also kidnapped one of his daughters," the official added.
   
The violence came just 24 hours after Alba narrowly escaped an attack by another hit squad Saturday at a hotel in Iguala, also in Guerrero state. Seven people were killed in that incident and another eight wounded.
   
The hotel was hit as the ranchers were preparing an industry convention.
   
Alba, who also was targeted in an attack in 2006, is a past mayor of Petatlan (1993-1995). Local media have linked him to paramilitary groups accused of killing 17 members of a local rural workers organization.
   
Since December 2006, President Felipe Calderon's federal government has deployed 36,000 military troops and thousands of police around the country in an operation aimed at clamping down on organized crime.
   
But 16 people were killed in Guerrero state this weekend alone.
   
And four police were killed in the northern state of Sinaloa late Friday in an ambush, authorities said. Another two local police were killed, according to a local media report.
   
Federal and state authorities on Friday arrested 13 hitmen in Sinaloa and seized weapons and 379,000 dollars as part of the government's national anti-organized crime operation.
   
"This reaction by organized crime reflects how the Mexican government is fighting it in an unprecedented and systematic way," Public Safety chief Genaro Garcia Luna said at a weekend ceremony honoring policemen slain in recent days.

Date created : 2008-05-05

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