Gunmen shot and killed a mayor, his father, and 16 other people in the southern Mexico state of Guerrero on Wednesday, authorities said.
San Miguel Totolapan town Mayor Conrado Mendoza Almeda and his father, a former mayor of the town, were identified among the victims killed in the shooting, State Attorney General Sandra Luz Valdovinos told Milenio television late Wednesday.
The BBC, citing police, reported that the gunmen stormed the San Miguel Totolapan town hall at 2 p.m. local time before carrying out the shooting attack.
Local media reported that the gunmen were “heavily armed” and arrived at the building in two vehicles shortly before opening fire. Security personnel to the mayor were also shot during the incident along with other government members, Mexican newspaper Reforma reported.
Disturbing images shared online show the town hall riddled with bullet holes and a number of bloodied bodies lying on the floor of the building.
Following the attack, Guerrero’s Public Safety Department said in a statement that it has launched a “coordinated operation” along with army and navy units who are being deployed by land and air to find the gunmen. The department added that injured people from the site of the shooting had been transferred to local hospitals for immediate medical attention.
“The Secretary of State Public Security, together with civil and military authorities, will maintain a presence in the area,” the statement reads.
Mayor Conrado Mendoza Almeda’s party, the PRD, confirmed the deaths in a statement on Twitter in which they condemned the “cowardly” attack and called for justice.
“The National Executive Directorate of #PRD condemns the cowardly murder of our colleague Conrado Mendoza Almeda, Mayor of San Miguel Totolapan, #Guerrero. We demand justice @FGEGuerrero, enough of violence and impunity,” the party wrote.
Gang Violence, Conflict Plagues Residents
Guerrero State Gov. Evelyn Salgado Pineda, a member of the nation’s ruling Morena party, also condemned the attack in a statement on social media and said there will be “no impunity in the face of the cunning aggression against the municipal president and officials of the City Council.”
Pineda said she has asked the state Attorney General’s Office to investigate the shooting.
“Our commitment is firm, we will not take a step back to provide security to the population of San Miguel Totolapan and to our entire region of Tierra Caliente,” she added.
In August, the U.S. State Department issued an updated Travel Advisory warning Americans about an increased risk of kidnapping when visiting Mexico, amid a wave of cartel violence, including homicides, kidnappings, carjackings, and robberies in several areas.
Americans were advised not to travel to several Mexican states in the bulletin, including Sinaloa, Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Zacatecas, and Tamaulipas states.
In another shooting later on Wednesday in the neighboring state of Morelos, state Deputy Gabriela Marín was shot dead as she exited a vehicle in the city of Cuernavaca south of Mexico City, according to reports.
Luis Jorge Gamboa Olea, president magistrate of the Superior Court of Justice of the State of Morelos, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, “My solidarity with the family and friends of local deputy Gabriela Marín Sánchez in these difficult times.”
The deaths of Mendoza and Marín on Wednesday bring the total number of mayors killed during Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s administration to 18 and the number of state lawmakers to eight, according to data from Etellekt Consultores.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.