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Gunmen kill Mexican mayor near Monterrey

Suspected drug hitmen killed the mayor of a town outside Mexico's northern business city of Monterrey Thursday while seven died in a gang shootout in Acapulco.
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Suspected drug hitmen killed the mayor of a town outside Mexico's northern business city of Monterrey Thursday, the fourth public official slain in little over a month, police said.

The hit was reported the same day that Mexican authorities said seven people were killed in a shootout between rival drug gangs in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco.

In Doctor Gonzalez, 30 miles east of Monterrey in Nuevo Leon state, Mayor Prisciliano Rodriguez was shot and killed by gunmen as he drove to his ranch, an official at the attorney general's office said.

It was not immediately clear why Rodriguez, who won the mayorship last year for the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was targeted, but Nuevo Leon and the neighboring state of Tamaulipas have become major drug war flashpoints since the start of the year.

Another person traveling with Rodriguez was also killed in the attack, Reforma newspaper reported, but police declined to comment.

In Guerrero, state investigative police director Fernando Monreal said gunmen used grenades and automatic rifles to attack a house in a residential area of Acapulco on Thursday.

The state of Guerrero, where Acapulco is located, has become a drug cartel battleground.

Authorities on Wednesday found the decapitated bodies of two men inside a car abandoned in the community of Kilometro 30, near Acapulco.

Last month, drug gangs killed a mayor in the Nuevo Leon tourist town of Santiago and another mayor in the Tamaulipas municipality of Hidalgo that lies on a highway to Monterrey.

President Felipe Calderon has blamed the surge in violence around Monterrey and in Tamaulipas on the split between the Gulf and Zetas gang, but faces increasing pressure to calm the killings. More than 29,000 people have been killed in drug violence since Calderon sent more than 45,000 troops and federal police across Mexico in 2006 to battle warring drug gangs, prompting fears that bloodshed could undermine tourism and investment as Mexico slowly recovers from its worst recession since 1932.

The U.S. government in August told staff at its consulate in Monterrey to send their children out of the city, once considered one of Latin America's safest cities and a top regional business center. There have been more than 450 drug killings in Monterrey and Nuevo Leon state this year.