The Associated Press
Ciudad Altamarino, Guerrero - A mayor in western Mexico has been seriously wounded after gunmen opened fire on her car in the third assassination attempt against her.
The Guerrero State Public Safety Department says four others were injured, including Mayor Maria Santos Gorrocheta's brother and a reporter for a regional newspaper.
The attack occurred Friday in Ciudad Altamarino, a town in Guerrero. Gorrocheta is the mayor of Tiquicheo in neighboring Michoacan state. The attack occurred on the road to Ciudad Altamirano, municipality of Guerrero near the border of Michoacan. The sicarios used AK-47, according to some of the victims themselves.
"Between life and death" is how they described the condition of the Tiquicheo's municipal mayor, Maria de los Santos Gorrostieta Salazar, as is the same condition for the other people who were traveling with her, after the ambush they suffered between Michoacan and Guerrero.
At exactly 15:30 hours, they were ambushed and attacked with bursts of high-powered weapons that hit all the occupants in the vehicle, especially Gorrostieta Maria de los Santos Salazar, who according to initial reports received at least seven impacts.
Preliminary information coming out is that the mayor received at least seven bullet wounds in different parts of her body. The mayor was also traveling with the head of the Secretariat of Agricultural Development of Michoacan, Maricarmen Trejo, as well as a journalist and correspondent in the region of Huetamo, they were among others who were also seriously wounded.
The information so far indicates that all these people were secured inside an SUV travelling to an event of agriculture that was to take place in Ciudad Altamirano, Guerrero.
When they reached the traffic light on the intersection of Revolucion, the police escort who were travellin in front in another vehicle got sperated and, it was at this very moment that a group of sicarios in at least two vehicles blocked their path and started shooting at them with high powered rifles, the sicario preferred weapon of choice, the AK-47 or other wise known as "cuernos de chivo."
The bullets came in through the windshield and on both sides of the SUV and they found the back of Gorrostieta Salazar at least 3 times, who was lying on her left side toward the side of the driver, while his brother, the driver of the vehicle, the two governmental employees and the journalist, received gunshot wounds to different parts of their bodies.
Authorities of both states immediately mobilized trying to track the sicarios in a very extensive operation but resulted in negative results so far. The government of Michoacan ordered the deployment of helicopters to transport the injured persons to receive specialized medical care.
Authorities have revealed no possible motive.
It should be noted that this is the third time the mayor of Tiquicheo is involved in an attack of this nature, the first was on January 16, 2009 on her homeland, where she was wounded along with her late husband Joseph Sanchez Chavez.
And on October 15, 2009 Gorrostieta Salazar, was attacked at the entrance to the Tenure Papatzindán Lemon, in the municipality of Tiquicheo and this time her husband, Sanchez Chavez, was shot dead at the scene, while the municipal mayor was rushed to a hospital in Morelia where she received medical attention.
Two weeks before she returned to her duties as municipal mayor and once again, after returning from Guerrero, where she was invited to an official event was attacked by an armed commando.
This is the SUV the mayor was travelling on during the attack. This is the same SUV she was also travelling on during the previous attack.
Michoacan and Guerrero are two states affected by the violence of drug cartels that are engaged in a violent tag of war over control of turf and to establish a power base, while at the same time they are waging an all offensive attack against authorities.
Michoacan, which is located more than 200 miles west of Mexico City, is considered the bastion of La Familia, one of the cartels to which the government attributes some of the worst violence occurring in the country and dozens of murders of rival cartel members as well as policemen.
Drug violence has surged in Michoacan, home base of the La Familia cartel.
In May, eight mayors in Michoacan were charged for allegedly protecting La Familia.
This incident is very troubling for me. First of all, why is it that after two previous attempts to assassinate the mayor, the brother is driving the vehicle and there is no security in the vehicle? Certainly, someone must have known that the mayor is a legitimate target as there have been attempts before and this particular region has extensive sicario activity. Was this the decision of the police or the mayor not to have armed protection in the vehicle?
Why is the police escort in front? Typically the most tactical advantageous procedure is to have the police escort trailing the target vehicle. This way they could watch for any suspicious vehicles around them and to ensure they don’t lose the target vehicle in traffic. Also why would the escort lose the target vehicle, where they not watching, or was it intentional? I mean you lose sight of the target vehicle in the rear and you stop until it catches up. But having the escort in the front doesn’t make any sense, even for the untrained.
Also how did the sicarios have so much time to engage the target vehicle without the police escort having time to engage? Where they that far away? How did the sicarios manage to escape with a police escort supposedly very near the target vehicle? I believe that the police escort was either not very good at protecting or were intentional in their lack of.
I know if I was the mayor in this town, it would be very hard press to trust anyone, particular the police. But this tragic set of circumstances should not have ended like this,
only if. . . . . .