OAXACA, Mexico – The mayor-elect of a small town near Oaxaca state's Pacific coast has been shot to death, the latest in a string of political figures who have been slain in Mexico this year.
Antonio Jimenez Banos, 47, who would have taken office in January in Martires de Tacubaya, was killed Friday afternoon by an assailant as he was returning to his farm. He was hit in the head and chest apparently with a shotgun, prosecutors said.
Eleven sitting mayors have been killed so far this year in Mexico. Two of them were also in Oaxaca, but most of the killings have been in northern states plagued by drug gang violence.
Candidates and representatives-elect have also been assassinated. The most brazen was a deadly ambush of a gubernatorial candidate earlier this year in the border state of Tamaulipas, where two drug cartels are fighting a bloody battle for territory and transit routes to the United States.
Mexican drug cartels have increasingly targeted local elected officials as they fight the government and each other. They use isolated, lightly patrolled towns to hide and to stash kidnap victims, weapons and drugs and seek to co-opt or eliminate authorities to assert their control.
Oaxaca, however, has seen a rise in political attacks on elected officials. Two mayors were killed in June, one at a political rally and the other in a dispute over a mine.
The prosecutor's office said it didn't know if the attack on Jimenez, a member of Mexico's once-dominant Institutional Revolutionary Party, was politically motivated. After Jimenez was elected in July, several groups protested the vote.
Just three days ago, Manuel Benitez Manzanares, Oaxaca's representative-elect for Mexico's Congress of Deputies, was kidnapped by a group of hooded gunmen. He was elected from President Felipe Calderon's conservative National Action Party.
(This version CORRECTS that victim was not the 12th such town official slain; 11 sitting mayors have been killed and an undetermined number of mayor-elects and mayoral candidates have been killed.)