Two priests were found dead Monday, hours after they were abducted in Mexico’s Gulf coast state of Veracruz. The Veracruz state prosecutors’ office said the two men were kidnapped Sunday in the northern Veracruz city of Poza Rica. Their bodies were found dumped by a roadside Monday. A third man who was abducted with them was later found alive and put under protection, officials said.
The Mexican Council of Bishops identified the dead men as priests Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz. They were kidnapped from a low-income neighborhood where they served.
“We express our pain and indignation at the violence committed against them,” the council said in a statement. “In these moments of pain and powerlessness in the face of the tragic violence we pray to the heavens for the eternal rest of our brothers and ask Our Lord for the conversion of their killers,” the statement added. “From the authorities, we expect an investigation clear up these acts and that those responsible be brought to justice.”
The area around Poza Rica has been the scene of drug gang violence for years, though it is not clear why the priests were targeted. Priests have been killed before in Mexico, mainly in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero, though the motives remain unclear.