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BRIEF

Death Toll Rises in Guatemala With Candidate's Murder

GUATEMALA / 24 JUN 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

A candidate running for city council was killed June 23 in Guatemala, bringing the total of campaign-related attacks this year to 30.

City council candidate Rony Rodriguez was killed by unknown gumen Thursday in a town near the El Salvador border. He was running on the ticket of ruling party the National Union for Hope (Unidad Nacional de Esperanza - UNE).

His campaign aide, Darwin Mendoza, and Mendoza's 7-year-old son were also reportedly kidnapped, in what appears to have been a coordinated attack against Rodriguez and his associates, reports national newspaper La Prensa.

So far this year more than 20 political candidates have been murdered in Guatemala. National and municipal elections are due to take place in September. The last election year, in 2007, saw at least 60 attacks and 40 murders. All major parties were affected, although the party of President Alvaro Colom, UNE, suffered the most attacks.

Mayoral candidates have been heavily targeted this year, with two killed in June alone. As a recent report by think-tank the International Crisis Group notes, regional politicians may be more at risk than national candidates when it comes to intimidation by armed groups, who may be seeking political capital in rural, municipal governments, where rule of law is weak.

Rodriguez's murder comes as Guatemala is wrapping up an international conference about security issues in Central America.

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