Mexico mayor slain campaigning for president's kin

November 2, 2011 - 11:00 PM

MORELIA, Mexico (AP) — A mayor in Mexico's western state of Michoacan was shot dead Wednesday night while campaigning for President Felipe Calderon's sister in her run for the governorship.

Mayor Ricardo Guzman of La Piedad was passing out campaign material when an SUV drove by and a gunman opened fire, said Jonathan Arredondo, spokesman of the state Attorney General's Office. The office initially said a man had pointed a gun at Guzman's head and fired.

The 45-year-old mayor was campaigning for gubernatorial candidate Luisa Maria Calderon, who belongs to the National Action Party, or PAN, like her brother. She is a contender in the Nov. 13 state elections.

Officials did not say whether the attack was drug related or orchestrated by political rivals.

Michoacan is Felipe Calderon's home state and where he launched his armed offensive against drug cartels. The Knights Templar gang is fighting the once-dominant La Familia, a pseudo-religious drug cartel that controlled methamphetamine smuggling.

At least five mayors have been killed in Mexico this year while more than a dozen were slain in 2010. Some of the killings have been linked to criminal gangs and others to local disputes.

In 2010, a gubernatorial candidate was murdered in the northern border state of Tamaulipas in the most recent high-profile politician killing.

Two presidential candidates with the PAN, former Finance Secretary Ernesto Cordero and former lawmaker Josefina Vazquez Mota, sent Twitter messages condemning the attack on Guzman and praising his work as mayor.