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By Chris Covert
An attempted kidnapping of a municipal president by at least 20 armed suspects in a tiny central Zacatecas municipality has left two municipal police agents, one Policia Federal (PF) operator and one security agent for Ferremex railroad dead, according to Mexican news account and an anonymous correspondent for Borderlandbeat.com.
According to a news account published on the website of Zacatecas En Linea news daily, the incident took place in Canitas de Felipe Pescador Wednesday afternoon as armed suspects travelling aboard several trucks attacked the town.
"There was an attempt to kill or kidnap Oswaldo Sabag Hamadan...over 20 vehicles of sicarios (gunmen)," according to the correspondent.
The firefight last for hours, say some press accounts.
A PF detachment was apparently in the municipality when the assault began but it was reportedly too small to deal with such a massive attack, and had to call in and wait for reinforcements, according to press accounts. The PF detachment had been assigned to guard a freight train as it passed through Canitas de Felipe Pescador, which was the stated reason for their presence.
Several armed suspects were shot and were killed during the firefight, but their bodies were removed by their comrades in arms, a common tactic among drug gangs involved in shootouts. Going by descriptions in Mexican press, the armed group which attempted to kidnap Sabag Hamadan had apparently badly miscalculated the strength of local and federal security in the town.
Last August Sabag Hamadani was involved in another security incident which sparked fears of a kidnapping.
According to a news account published on the website of Pagina 24, Sabag Hamadani and his family had closed their residence -- which is less than five blocks from Zona Centro -- and had cut off utilities, all apparently without telling anyone.
At the time, Zacatecas Procuraduria General de Justicia del Estado (PGJE) or attorney general Arturo Nahle Garcia said Sabag Hamadani had not been kidnapped but did not elaborate.
It was not until a month later that Sabag Hamadani reemerged in an announcement by Zacatecas state top police official Secretaria de Seguridad Publica (SSP), Jesus Pinto Ortiz, according to a separate news account featured in Zacatecas en Linea, played down the disappearance saying Sabag Hamadani "comes and goes as he likes."
The news account quoted Senor Pinto Ortiz as saying Canita de Felipe Pescador is a "hot spot" for criminal groups.
Wednesday's incident seems to indicate that Sabag Hamadani is a target of one group or another, either Los Zetas or the Sinaloa cartel and their allies. The Gulf Cartel is also known to operate in the area and the massive influx of vehicles with armed suspects travelling in the open en convoy in large groups is a Sinaloa cartel tactic in this area of Mexico.
According to the anonymous correspondent talking about about last August's disappearance: "...supposedly he went into hiding due to threats from organized crime, he had a reputation of working for the zetas and this was roughly a month before El Taliban´s arrest so I figure El Taliban had already switched sides at that point and that´s where the threats and hiding came from."
Another kidnapping incident was resolved last week this time involving a candidate of the Partido Verde Ecologista de Mexico (PVEM) for Canitas de Felipe Pescador municipal president Jaimie Rincon, according to press accounts.
Two weeks ago Rincon was kidnapped by armed suspects travelling aboard five vehicles at around 0400 hrs April 2nd at his home in La Seccion del Ferrocarril, according to a news account posted on the website of ZTR Zacatecas. Reportedly no ransom had been made nor had any denunciation of the crime took place at the Zacatecas PGJE or with the national Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR).
A week ago, April 13 Rincon was released beaten and dumped alive near a cemetery in Villa de Cos municipality.
Since his release nothing has been said about the incident.
Zacatecas is one of several states undergoing primary midterm elections for local deputies and municipal presidents, due to take place next July.
Rincon has been kidnapped three times before. He had also previously run for election for president of a local ejido, and a local livestock trade group.
In national politics, the PVEM is often closely allied with the ruling Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), now holding the national presidency in the person of Enrique Pena Nieto.
Said the correspondent: "I have no clue if Jaime Rincon, the precandidate from PVEM, had any link with any of the cartels or if Oswaldo was behind Jaime´s kidnapping, it just called my attention 2 kidnappings of politicians, or one plus a failed attempt, in a town so small, I don´t believe in coincidences of this magnitude."
BorderlandBeat.com reporter Chivis Martinez contributed to this story.
Special thanks to the BorderlandBeat anonymous correspondent for the data and insights into the incidents.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com and BorderlandBeat.com