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Italian in Mexican ambush safe and sound

Gunmen kill two in attack on humanitarian convoy

29 April, 12:20
Italian in Mexican ambush safe and sound (ANSA) - Rome, April 29 - An Italian who was believed to have been taken hostage after gunmen attacked a humanitarian convoy in southern Mexico is safe and sound, the Italian foreign ministry said on Thursday.

The ministry said David Casinori had been in contact by phone with an official from the Italian embassy in Mexico who had gone to the southern state of Oaxaca to try to find him.

Casinori later spoke by phone with a private Italian radio station and explained that he had not been able to get into contract before because he had lost his cellphone.

Two people were killed Tuesday and a number of people taken hostage when a paramilitary group ambushed a convoy carrying some 40 Mexican activists, journalists, teachers and European aid workers which was travelling to the remote village of San Juan Copala bringing food, clothing and medicines.

The victims were reported to be 25-year-old Tyri Antero Jaakkola of Finland and Alberta Carino, 35, who was a member of the Latin American NGO Cactus.

There are also reports that a third person may have been killed in the attack.

Recalling the ambush, Casinori said "we were about to enter San Juan Copala when we found the road was blocked. When we tried to back up a group of gunmen appeared and began firing on us. At first we all took cover but then we ran off into the jungle".

"Unfortunately, two people were killed while they were still in one of the vehicles," he added "During our escape some of us were stopped by the gunmen whothreatened and robbed us before letting us go. We ran through the forest until we reached a main road, where we could still hear shots being fired," Casinori said.

"We were helped in our escape by the Mexican members of our convoy who had contacts with the local population. I'm alright even though still a little shocked. But I'm in a safe place with other members of the convoy," he told the radio station.

The gunmen who attacked the convoy are believed to be members of the Triqui Region Union for Social Wellbeing (Ubisort), a paramilitary group said to be linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the leading opposition party which was in power in Mexico uninterruptedly for 71 years until 2000.

Ubisort is battling for control of the region against the Unifying Movement of Triqui Struggle (Mult-i).

According to official Mexican sources, rivalry between the two Triqui groups left over 30 people killed last year and violence has worsened recently due to the upcoming July 4 elections.

photo: police in Oaxaca

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