The Malta Independent 15 April 2024, Monday
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Mob in Mexico brutally beats suspected kidnapper to death hours before Holy Week procession

Associated Press Friday, 29 March 2024, 06:17 Last update: about 17 days ago

A mob in the Mexican tourist city of Taxco brutally beat a woman to death Thursday because she was suspected of kidnapping and killing a young girl, rampaging just hours before the city’s famous Holy Week procession.

The mob formed after an 8-year-old girl disappeared Wednesday. Her body was found on a road on the outskirts of the city early Thursday. Security camera footage appeared to show a woman and a man loading a bundle, which may have been the girl's body, into a taxi.

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The mob surrounded the woman's house Thursday, threatening to drag her out. Police took the woman into the bed of a police pickup truck, but then stood by — apparently intimidated by the crowd — as members of the mob dragged her out of the truck and down onto the street where they stomped, kicked and pummeled her until she lay, partly stripped and motionless.

Police then picked her up and took her away, leaving the pavement stained with blood. The Guerrero state prosecutors’ office later confirmed the woman died of her injuries.

“This is the result of the bad government we have,” said a member of the mob, who gave her name as Andrea but refused to give her last name. “This isn't the first time this kind of thing has happened,” she said, referring to the murder of the girl, “but this is the first time the people have done something.”

“We are fed up,” she said. “This time it was an 8-year-old girl.”

The mayor of Taxco, Mario Figueroa, said he shared residents' outrage over the killing. Figueroa said a total of three people beaten by the mob — the woman and two men — had been taken away by police. Video from the scene suggested they had also been beaten, though The Associated Press witnessed only the beating of the woman.

The state prosecutors' office said the two men were hospitalized. There was no immediate information on their condition.

In a statement issued soon after the event, Figueroa complained he did not get any help from the state government for his small, outnumbered municipal police force.

“Unfortunately, up to now we have not received any help or answers,” Figueroa said.

The Good Friday eve religious procession, which dates back centuries in the old silver-mining town, went off as planned Thursday night.

People crowded Taxco's colonial streets to watch hooded men walking while whipping themselves or carrying heavy bundles of thorns across their bare shoulders in penitence to emulate the suffering of Jesus Christ carrying the cross.

But the earlier flash of violence cast a pall over the already solemn procession, which draws thousands to the small town.

Many participants wore small white ribbons of mourning.

“I never thought that in a touristic place like Taxco we would experience a lynching,” said Felipa Lagunas, a local elementary school teacher. “I saw it as something distant, in places far from civilization ... I never imagined that my community would experience this on such a special day.”

Mob attacks in rural Mexico are common. In 2018, two men were torched by an angry crowd in the central state of Puebla, and the next day a man and woman were dragged from their vehicle, beaten and set afire in the neighboring state of Hidalgo.

But Taxco and other cities in Guerrero state have been particularly prone to violence.

In late January, Taxco endured a days-long strike by private taxi and van drivers who suffered threats from one of several drug gangs fighting for control of the area. The situation was so bad that police had to give people rides in the back of their patrol vehicles.

Around the same time, the bullet-ridden bodies of two detectives were found on the outskirts of Taxco. Local media said their bodies showed signs of torture.

In February, Figueroa's own bulletproof car was shot up by gunmen on motorcycles.

In Taxco and throughout Guerrero state, drug cartels and gangs routinely prey on the local population, demanding protection payments from store owners, taxi and bus drivers. They kill those who refuse to pay.

Residents said they have had enough, even though the violence may further affect tourism.

“We know the town lives off of Holy Week (tourism) and that this is going to mess it up. There will be a lot of people who won't want to come anymore,” said Andrea, the woman who was in the mob. “We make our living off tourism, but we cannot continue to allow them to do these things to us.”

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