The Mexican government said Monday it has stepped up its search for a prominent member of the ruling National Action Party who has been missing since Friday and is feared kidnapped.
Diego Fernandez de Cevallos, a former presidential candidate, congressman and senator for the National Action Party, or PAN, went missing late Friday at a ranch he owns in the central state of Queretaro.
Authorities said traces of blood found alongside his vehicle matched the blood type of the 69-year-old politician and lawyer. The government is continuing to treat the case as one of a missing person.
The federal Attorney General's Office said Monday that it's working with the Queretaro state government on the case and has also sought the assistance of state and local police across the country in the search for Fernandez de Cevallos.
The Attorney General's Office said it was trying to "avoid the proliferation of rumors" and was aware of the need to keep the public informed.
Rumors that have circulated since the weekend include unsubstantiated reports that Fernandez de Cevallos had been found dead, and others that he had been found wounded in a Queretaro hospital.
Speculation in the case has included the involvement of drug gangs in the suspected abduction, political revenge, kidnap for ransom, or an attention-grabbing act by a rebel group.
The Popular Revolutionary Army, or EPR, a left-wing rebel group that claimed responsibility in 2007 for bombing several natural gas pipelines run by state oil firm Petroleos Mexicanos, condemned the disappearance of Fernandez de Cevallos while sharply criticizing the government of President Felipe Calderon and his use of the armed forces to confront drug gangs.
The EPR is still demanding the release or appearance of two of its members it said were detained by government forces in southern Oaxaca state almost three years ago. The Oaxaca state and federal governments have denied ever having had the two in custody.
In a statement posted on the Internet Monday, the EPR said the disappearance of Fernandez de Cevallos is "regrettable" and that the group "shared the pain of his family."
Relatives of Fernandez de Cevallos, through a lawyer, called Monday on anyone holding the politician to get in touch to negotiate his release, according to local media reports.