The mayor of the Mexican resort city of Mazatlan and his bodyguards emerged unscathed after gunmen opened fire on their vehicles near a toll plaza on the Pacific Highway in the western state of Sinaloa, authorities said Tuesday.
Alejandro Higuera Osuna and his escorts were attacked Monday night while traveling between Mazatlan and Culiacan, the state capital, police sources said.
At least 10 heavily armed assailants hiding in the brush started shooting as the SUVs carrying the mayor and his guards passed the El Marmol toll plaza.
Higuera Osuna denied that he was targeted and said that his bodyguards , that were travelling ahead of him, were stopped at a false check point, at which time a shootout ensued. Osuna said that the criminals were attempting to steal vehicles but were surprised by his bodyguards.
Sinaloa’s public safety secretary, Francisco Cordova, confirmed that the attack occurred, but said authorities are not sure whether Higuera was specifically targeted.
Members of Mexico’s warring drug cartels typically favor SUVs and some highway shooting incidents are due to gunmen firing on the wrong vehicle in pursuit of their enemies.
After the shooting stopped, Higuera took refuge at the toll plaza and made a call for help that was answered by more than two-dozen units from various law enforcement agencies.
Shell casings from AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles littered the highway and the vehicle carrying the mayor’s bodyguards was riddled with bullet holes.
A score of Mexican mayors have been slain since the beginning of 2010, according to statistics from the Fenamm association representing 1,500 of the country’s 2,500 municipal chiefs.
The most recent victim was Ricardo Guzman Romero, mayor of La Piedad in the western state of Michoacan, who was gunned down last week while campaigning for his party’s candidates in upcoming elections.
Source: EFE and El Debate