Two priests have been killed in an armed ambush in Mexico.
Fr Ivan Anorve Jaimes and Fr Germain Muniz Garcia were attacked on the morning of February 5, as they drove between the cities of Taxco and Iguala in Guerrero state, 100 miles south of Mexico City.
Guerrero state officials said later that day that an armed group blocked the priests’ vehicle and opened fire. The priests were travelling with four other passengers, all of whom were injured.
Church officials in Guerrero condemned the killings and called for a thorough investigation.
“We are dismayed by this tragic event, which the archdiocesan community [of Acapulco] and the community of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa mourns,” the Archdiocese of Acapulco said in a statement. Fr Anorve was a priest of the archdiocese, while Fr Muniz was part of the Diocese of Chilpancingo-Chilapa.
The state prosecutor, Xavier Olea, said on Tuesday that the attack had been triggered by a photo taken hours earlier, of Fr Muniz holding an assault rifle alongside masked individuals, a claim Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa disputed.
Bishop Rangel said the two slain priests were musicians, who performed in remote hamlets and “approached people” and “evangelised” through music. Fr Muniz, he said, was famed for his parish choir, while Fr Anorve came from the Costa Chica region, at least five hours away.
Olea also said the priests were “drinking” at a celebration attended by armed narcotics traffickers from three states – an explanation Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa said was false.
The Catholic Multimedia Centre counts 21 priests murdered since December 2012, with the cases overwhelmingly remaining unpunished. In Guerrero state alone, at least six priests have been killed since 2009, including Comboni Fr John Ssenyondo, a Ugandan missionary, whose body was pulled from a clandestine grave.
Mexico has seen increasing violence due to drug cartel conflicts and a failure of the federal government to improve policing, curb corruption or implement the rule of law.