CHILPANCINGO, Mexico – A Catholic priest and two seminarians were killed by heavily armed assailants in the southern state of Guerrero, state police director Erit Montufar said on Monday.
The Rev. Habacuc Hernandez, 39, and seminary students Eduardo Oregon, 19, and Silvestre Gonzalez, 21, were intercepted last Saturday while traveling in an SUV through the town of Arcelia, the police director said.
The bishop of Acapulco, Felipe Aguirre, said the priest and seminarians were en route to a church function at the time of the assault.
Their vehicle was hit at least 20 times by rounds fired from assault rifles, the weapon of choice for Mexican organized crime.
Two criminal outfits, La Familia Michoacana, and the Beltran Leyva cartel, are said to be vying for dominance of the illegal drug trade in the area where the states of Mexico, Guerrero and Michoacan converge.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces in a scramble for control of smuggling and distribution routes.
Armed groups linked to Mexico’s drug cartels murdered around 1,500 people in 2006 and 2,700 people in 2007, with the 2008 death toll soaring to more than 6,000.
So far this year, according to a tally by the Mexico City daily El Universal, nearly 2,900 people have died. EFE