Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto's cousin and the former governor of the State of Mexico were both shot dead as they were resisting the robbery of their car, it was confirmed Tuesday by the office of the Attorney General.
According to the investigation, the shootout took place last Saturday, 3 p.m., local time, in the town of Atlacomulco, in the neighborhood of Colonia 2 de Abril.
Eyewitnesses said they were resisting the assault on their car when they were killed.
Violence is a central issue in July’s presidential election, as Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto faces an uphill battle to keep his ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in office.
The most deadly states were Guerrero in the south, followed by the heavily-populated central State of Mexico, and Baja California in the northwest.
As a comparison, the expanding drug war in Mexico claimed 23,000 lives during 2016, according to the annual Armed Conflict Survey by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS.
The drug war began in late 2006 when former President Felipe Calderon unleashed the military on the country's drug cartels — a move immediately backed by a US$1.8 billion military aid package by former U.S. President George W. Bush. Washington provided further annual drug war aid to Mexico through the Merida Initiative since.
In comparison, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016.
Peña Nieto picked off where Calderon left off, continuing a drug war that has also seen disappearances, torture, rape and systematic impunity.
The militarized drug war also coincides with the crisis against journalists in the country, who often report on its resulting violence — only to be attacked, or as is often the case, murdered.