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Mayor in central Guatemala murdered

(Xinhua)

16:10, September 28, 2011

GUATEMALA CITY, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- A mayor in Guatemala's troubled central province of Alta Verapaz was shot dead by unidentified gunmen, Guatemalan National Civil Police (PNC) said Tuesday.

Nery Alonso, mayor of the Temahu municipality, was murdered late Monday night after his car was intercepted by a group of men armed with large assault weapons, the PNC said in a statement.

Alonso's bodyguard, who traveled with him in the car back to Tamahu after attending a meeting in Guatemala City, was injured and taken to a local hospital for treatment, but Alonso died on the spot, the police said.

Alonso was due to hand over the local mayor's office to his successor in January next year. Sources at Guatemala's Attorney General's Office for Human Rights said the killing appeared to be an attempt by illegal groups involved in drug trafficking to intimidate the new mayor.

The human rights office has said that pre-electoral and electoral violence in Guatemala has already left at least 20 dead so far this year.

In recent years, Mexican drug cartel Los Zetas reportedly have dominated most of the trafficking routes via Alta Verapaz in close collaboration with Guatemalan gangs, and Alonso worked closely with the government last December to crack down on the drug gangs.

Alta Verapaz has long been one of Guatemala's most troubled spots. Some of the worst massacres involving hundreds of Indigenous Mayan Indians took place in the province during Guatemala's 1960-1996 bloody civil war.

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