Oaxaca – A mayor and another city official were killed, and four other people were hurt in a conflict over a mining project in southern Mexico, Oaxaca state Attorney General Maria de la Luz Candelaria Chiñas said.
San Jose del Progreso Mayor Oscar Venancio Rivera was killed in an ambush staged on Saturday night by unidentified individuals, Chiñas said.
Felix Misael Hernandez, who was the alderman in charge of health matters, also died in the ambush.
Initial reports from the AG’s office said the mayor had been killed in a clash with residents who oppose a mining project, but Chiñas said the information was incorrect.
San Jose del Progreso has been torn by a dispute over the Canadian-owned Minera Cuzcatlan project.
Some residents oppose the silver and gold mining project on the grounds that it will pollute the drinking water supply, while supporters of the mine claim it will create much-needed jobs.
Prosecutors are investigating “the violent incidents that occurred ... where two people are dead, (but) we still don’t know which group the people who attacked the mayor belonged to,” Chiñas said.
A civilian, a police officer and a second alderman were wounded in the ambush, the attorney general said.
A group of residents grabbed and beat the Rev. Martin Octavio Garcia Ortiz, who was rescued by police and later gave a statement to prosecutors.
The priest “was detained because a group of residents identified him as one of those inciting” opponents of the mining project, Chiñas said.
“He is not in serious condition, he suffered blows and has bruises,” the attorney general said.
The priest was not involved in the incident and “was coming from celebrating Mass in a nearby community when a group of residents told him to halt and ordered him out of his pick-up truck,” Archdiocese of Oaxaca Justice and Peace Commission head Wilfrido Mayren Pelaez said.
Oaxaca Archbishop Jose Luis Chavez Botello called on officials to investigate the violent incidents.
“If a priest commits a crime, that is his responsibility,” the archbishop said.