Reports of violence as 12 Mexican states vote for governors

(Associated Press) - June 6, 2016 - 6:27am

XALAPA — Government and political leaders reported scattered incidents of election-related violence in Mexico on yesterday as 12 states voted for new governors.

In Veracruz, a two-party alliance backing an opposition candidate complained of attacks against party members in seven municipalities, including vehicles being burned and gasoline bombs thrown at a party office in the state capital of Xalapa.

Jose Mancha Alarcon, the state leader of the National Action Party said attackers burst into the home of the mayor of Acajete and set it on fire.

In the town of Emiliano Zapata, near Xalapa, a severed human head was left in a park just steps from a polling station.

Veracruz state Public Security Secretary Arturo Bermudez confirmed that the driver for a local lawmaker was kidnapped. The lawmaker is part of the opposition alliance's gubernatorial campaign.

Meanwhile, threatening text messages warning people not to vote were sent to cellphones in Veracruz.

Mexican newspaper El Universal reported that attackers with clubs and stones damaged dozens of buses carrying campaign material in the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa. It said a mob in the southern state of Oaxaca burned some ballots and threatened to prevent polling stations from opening, while in Zacatecas a gasoline bomb was tossed at the door of the state congress.

Veracruz is the biggest prize in yesterday's gubernatorial elections, which could shape the fortunes of the country's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party in its bid to hold onto the presidency in 2018.

In five of the 12 statehouses up for grabs, including Veracruz, the party has ruled uninterrupted for more than 80 years.

Voters are also deciding local races in Baja California. In the campaign for mayor of the border city of Tijuana, controversial former security chief Julian Leyzaola has a chance. Leyzaola has been credited with calming the city's bloodshed before moving on to do the same in Ciudad Juarez, but also criticized for his strong-arm tactics. In Juarez he was shot and can no longer walk.

In Mexico City, voters will select 60 members of a constituent assembly who will write a constitution for the capital.

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