updated 5/4/2008 7:44:06 PM ET 2008-05-04T23:44:06

A prominent cattle rancher hid Monday from gunmen who killed two of his sons and kidnapped his daughter in weekend attacks that left 17 people dead in southern Mexico, relatives and authorities said.

Men with assault rifles forced victims into a line and sprayed them with bullets Sunday at Rogaciano Alba's ranch in Petatlan, a town in southern Guerrero state, investigators said. Five people were killed and five others died at a hospital, State Attorney General Eduardo Murueta said Monday.

Alba, a former town mayor and president of Guerrero's cattle ranching union, was not at the ranch during the attack. Relatives said he has since gone into hiding.

"They were coming for my cousin Rogaciano, and since they didn't find him, they took it out on his sons and workers," said one of the rancher's cousins, who spoke on condition of anonymity because she feared for her life. "They hit him where it hurts the most."

Alba's sons Alejandro and Rusbel were among those killed, attorney general Murueta said. Gunmen also kidnapped his 18-year-old daughter, Ana Karen, whose whereabouts were unknown.

Six other ranchers were killed and five wounded on Saturday as they returned to their hotel from a union meeting led by Alba in the city of Iguala. Six were killed at the scene and a seventh died at a hospital, Murueta said.

Police have not made any arrests or determined a motive for the attacks.

Alba was investigated in 2002 for allegedly ordering the killing of Digna Ochoa, a human rights attorney who represented Zapatista guerrilla sympathizers and anti-logging activists in Guerrero.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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