‘Rapist seeking revenge suspected in Mexico deaths’

Says official
Forensic workers suit up as they continue the autopsies of 11 slain family members at a morgue inside the cemetery of the city of Tehuacan, Mexico, Saturday, June 11, 2016.Photo: AP /Pablo Spencer.

The prime suspect in the slaying of 11 family members is an alleged rapist seeking revenge against a victim whose complaint had him jailed, a Mexican law enforcement official said Saturday.

The official told The Associated Press that authorities believe two attackers fatally shot the woman, her family, and other relatives, including two girls. The killers also slashed a male victim believed to be the woman's partner, and may have tried to decapitate him.

The official was not authorized to be quoted by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Puebla state prosecutor's office said that one of the dead women had been raped and had a child by one of the attackers, apparently several years ago.

The killings took place Thursday night in the remote mountain hamlet of San Jose El Mirador, in the municipality of Coxcatlan in the central state of Puebla.

Clemente Hernandez, a leader of the 50-household village, said the two wounded girls were in serious condition, with bullet wounds to the chest and abdomen.

Hernandez, 37, said his two daughters, aged 8 and 9, were among the dead. He said one of the women who died, also a relative of his, was pregnant.

"We are not going back," Hernandez said of the hamlet's residents. "We are going to look for work wherever we can."

Five witnesses survived and were under government protection. They told authorities the attackers arrived by foot, opened fire and left. Prosecutors said they are believed to have fled into the mountains of neighboring Oaxaca state.

Authorities have not released the names of the victims or the suspects.

Officials had previously raised the possibility that the killings had religious overtones because residents of the largely evangelical hamlet had previously had disputes with Catholics in a nearby community. But that now appears not to have played a role.

The two homes where the killings occurred can be reached only by foot and the bodies had to be carried to the nearest road on stretchers. They were taken to the city of Tehuacan for autopsies.

The area has not been particularly hard hit by the drug violence raging in much of Mexico, but drug cultivation and land disputes are not uncommon in the region.