Band's Bodies Likely Found in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY -- Several bodies found in a well in northern Mexico appear to be members of a large, popular musical group and its crew who were reported abducted at gunpoint last week after a performance.

The authorities on Monday identified four of the dead, all shot to death, as members of the group and said there were indications that the other eight bodies were also group members.

Officials in Nuevo León State, which is near the Texas border and one of Mexico's most violent, said 12 bodies were found on Sunday and Monday, a few days after 18 members of the band, Kombo Kolombia, and its crew were reported missing after a performance Thursday night. Investigators were draining the well and trying to determine if there were more bodies in the area.

Jorge Domene, a spokesman for the Nuevo León government, said at a news conference Monday evening that investigators were led to the site by a group member who had escaped. The survivor said gunmen had abducted the group and shot them for reasons not yet determined.

"This was a direct attack," Mr. Domene said. "It was not random."

Family members reported the musicians missing on Friday after losing cellphone contact not long after the band, which specializes in a Colombian-style folk music called vallenato, played at a bar near Sabinas Hidalgo, about 30 miles north of Monterrey.

The governor of the state, Rodrigo Medina de la Cruz, in an interview with a local television station there, promised to find the band and capture any culprits. "We are going to continue looking for them," he said. "We are also going to investigate to find the motive, why it happened and, in the event that the taking of their lives is confirmed, what was behind this and of course capturing those that did it."

It is not unusual for drug gangs in Mexico to kill or assault musicians, especially those who play so-called narcocorridos that glorify the criminal underworld and end up offending well-armed listeners. A number of cities have banned that kind of music because of the violence that can accompany it.

But Kombo Kolombia was not known for that kind of music, favoring romantic, accordion-tinged folk ballads with titles like "Only You Make Me Happy."

Mass kidnappings, too, are not uncommon, either for ransom, robbery, the result of mistaken identity or to terrorize rivals.

But the disappearance of the band drew national attention and served as a reminder of the security challenges facing the administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office Dec. 1 with a vow to reduce violence.

Members of the president's security cabinet were meeting on Monday in Mexico State, which surrounds Mexico City, after an outbreak of violence there that has left some 70 people dead in the past month.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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