Investigators said Tuesday that two priests who were killed in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz knew their attackers and had been drinking with them. State prosecutor Luis Angel Bravo said the get-together with the attackers “broke down and turned violent,” and that “after the violence came the robbery” of church collection money and some vehicles.
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The bullet-ridden bodies of the priests were found on a roadside Monday. Bravo did not say how many attackers there were, but his office said earlier that one suspect had been identified.
His office said in a statement late Monday that prosecutors hoped to file a case against the identified suspect soon. It didn’t say whether the suspect was in custody.
Bravo said that neither drug cartels nor kidnapping was involved in the crime.
One priest had been shot nine times and both bodies were found miles from where they were last seen in the Veracruz city of Poza Rica on Sunday, he said.
The Catholic Media Center says 28 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006, not counting this week’s slayings. It says Veracruz, Guerrero and Mexico states are the most dangerous.
The U.S. State Department wrote in its 2015 International Religious Freedom report that priests in Mexico are “victims of extortion attempts, death threats, and intimidation by organized criminal groups.”