Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico mayor killed as Tamaulipas violence escalates

An injured man is taken onto an ambulance in Reynosa, Mexico Image copyright AFP
Image caption The Tamaulipas bombings are being blamed on regional drug cartels

The mayor of a town in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas has been shot dead - the second to die in the region in the past two weeks.

The shooting is the latest violence in the troubled state, which saw a wave of bomb attacks over the weekend.

Police in Tamaulipas are investigating a mass killing last week of 72 migrants by suspected members of a drug gang.

Meanwhile, the army said it had captured the "lieutenant" of a cartel in the northern city of Monterrey.

Francisco Zapata Gallegos was captured during a raid in Monterrey on Friday. He had confessed to taking part in an attack in March that caused the deaths of two students at a Monterrey university, the army said.

Mr Zapata, whose alias is "the Bald One" is thought to have been the chief figure for the Zetas cartel in Monterrey.

He had reportedly spent the past few months in hiding, but a tip-off from one of his associates led the army to his door.

'Reprehensible violent acts'

Away from Monterrey, the state of Tamaulipas was the target of a weekend-long wave of violence.

Marco Antonio Leal Garcia, mayor of Hidalgo, a small town in the western part of the state, was killed in a gun attack that also wounded his four-year-old daughter.

Mr Garcia, 46, was shot dead while driving his car, the AFP news agency quoted a source in the state prosecutor's office as saying.

Hidalgo borders Nuevo Leon state, where the mayor of another small town was found murdered on 18 August. Local police allied with a drug gang are suspected to be behind that killing.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon condemned the "cowardly" attack on Mr Garcia and the earlier "reprehensible violent acts" in Tamaulipas.

Much of the violence in the region is blamed on the Zetas, a brutal group of former elite Mexican army commandos.

Top prosecutor missing

The US government describes the gang as the most dangerous organised crime syndicate in Mexico, AFP reports.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Mexican authorities say the group of migrants may have been killed by members of the Zetas cartel

Four devices exploded separately in Tamaulipas in just 24 hours over the weekend, injuring at least 17 people.

The explosions appeared to target places connected with the probe into the migrant killings.

Police are still searching for a prosecutor involved in the case who has been missing for several days.

Mexican prosecutors have said they are deeply concerned for the safety of Roberto Suarez, who is leading the investigation into the deaths.

He and a police officer travelling with him have been missing since Wednesday.

Correspondents say it appears that gangsters are trying to stop those trying seeking evidence of the murders.

On Friday, two bombs exploded in the state capital, Ciudad Victoria, reports said, targeting a television station and the offices of the transport authorities. There were no reported injuries.

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