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  • Jose Villanueva Rodriguez, mayor of Oaxaca

    Jose Villanueva Rodriguez, mayor of Oaxaca's Ocotlan de Morelos municipality, was gunned down Dec. 17, 2016. | Photo: Twitter / @MonitorOaxaca

Published 18 December 2016

At least 16 mayors have been killed in the Mexican state of Oaxaca in the past decade.

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed a Mexican mayor in the southern state of Oaxaca Saturday, bringing the total of mayors murdered in the past decade in the state to at least 16 while the national total inches higher than 80.

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Jose Villanueva Rodriguez, mayor of the municipality of Ocotlan de Morelos, was gunned down near his home by attackers that drove by in a red SUV, local media reported. Villanueva Rodriguez’ brother and another victim were injured in the shooting.

State and municipal police are investigating the murder, according to authorities.

The mayor of the town about one hour south of the state capital Oaxaca city was just two weeks away from completing his three-year term in office. He delivered his third and final annual report as mayor less than one week ago.

The killing also comes months after Villanueva Rodriguez was suspended from his post in July, then reinstated just weeks later when a court ruled that the suspension had been an error.

The mayor’s political party, the Democratic Revolution Party or PRD by its Spanish acronym, condemned the murder Sunday, calling for thorough investigation into the crime.

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The killing recalls the assassination of another PRD mayor earlier this year. Gisela Mota Ocampa was shot dead in January on her second day in office as mayor of Temixco, one of the most violent municipalities in the south-central state of Morelos.

In August, three more Mexican mayors were killed in the span of just 10 days.

Villanueva Rodriguez joins a lengthy list of at least 82 other sitting, former and elected mayors who have been assassinated across the country since 2006, according to data from the National Association of Mayors.

At least 16 of those murders, including Villanueva Rodriguez, was committed in Oaxaca, making it the deadliest state for mayors in the country. The violence-ridden states of Michoacan, Veracruz and Guerrero followed with 10, 9, and 8 murders of mayors in the last 10 years, respectively.

And many other officials have also faced threats. According to Association of Local Authorities of Mexico, nearly 100 mayors and over 1,000 municipal officials in Mexico were targets of assassination attempts over the past decade.

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