A group of armed men have kidnapped at least 17 people after bursting into homes in the Mexican state of Guerrero.
The missing include two high school students taken from their college, 12 men and three women, town mayor Cesar Peñaloza was reported as saying by AFP and El Universal. Other media said victims were between 22 and 25 years old. Other kidnappings have been reported that have yet to be corroborated, said authorities.
More than 50 armed men travelled during the early hours of June 30 in a convoy of ten trucks taking people from different locations, reported Proceso. The mass kidnapping had "provoked panic and fear" amongst town residents, who since Monday afternoon had not left their homes and businesses, according to El Universal.
Peñaloza said the kidnappings had been successfully carried out despite the deployment of military and police in the town following a crime wave, reported AFP. "The situation in our municipality is unfortunate," he said. "Regrettably, this happened amid the military protection. We are overwhelmed by crime and unfortunately a lot of people are involved in criminal acts." Mayor Peñaloza himself survived an attempted shooting on June 6.
InSight Crime Analysis
This kidnapping comes less than five weeks after a mass disappearance of 11 young people at a bar in Mexico City, two shocking events that indicate "the most severe crisis of enforced disappearance in Latin America for decades" -- in the words of international NGO Human Rights Watch -- is far from over. More than 26,000 people are estimated to have disappeared in the last six years, with security forces implicated in many of the cases.
The disappearances also come at a time of heightened tensions in Guerrero state, one of Mexico's worst for drug-related violence. The government announced plans at the end of May to send in more federal and military police following an upsurge in the conflict, and backed a massive military deployment in the neighboring state of Michoacan. However, Mayor Peñaloza's comments highlight some of the severe difficulties in tackling Mexico's complex conflict -- more security forces simply do not mean more security.