Indigenous musicians killed in ambush in Guerrero

Ten indigenous musicians have been shot dead and burned in an ambush in western Mexico believed to have been carried out by a drug cartel, officials say.

The members of the Nahuas indigenous group were returning from a party when they were attacked in the town of Chilapa in Guerrero state.

The victims, all men, were aged between 15 and 42.

The Los Ardillos cartel, which frequently targets indigenous people in the area, was blamed for the attack.

The victims, part of the Sensación Musical group, were returning to their Alcozacán community on Friday after playing the day before, said David Sánchez Luna, co-ordinator of the regional indigenous group known as CRAC-PF.

Gunmen attacked their vehicle at around 14:00 local time (20:00 GMT) in Mexcalcingo, he said.

When the bodies were found, they were beyond recognition. After authorities refused to release them to the families, hundreds of indigenous people blocked a road on Friday night, La Jornada newspaper reported (in Spanish).

The Guerrero prosecutor’s office said it was investigating the case.

Guerrero is one of Mexico’s most violent states, where drug gangs fight for control of trafficking routes to the Pacific and other parts of the country. The Los Ardillos have been linked to dozens of deaths in recent months, including many indigenous people, according to local media.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has opted for a non-confrontational approach to the cartels, focusing, instead, on tackling inequality central to his efforts under a policy dubbed “abrazos, no balazos” – hugs not bullets.

But this policy has come in for criticism after a number of high-profile attacks, including an ambush in which nine members of a Mormon community were killed. The president vowed to create a new National Guard to tackle violence, but few have signed up to the force and amid fear of being killed on the job