Two Jesuit priests killed in Mexican area torn apart by drug violence

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MEXICO CITY – Gunmen stormed a Catholic church in northern Mexico on Monday, chasing a man trying to escape to safety, killing him and two Jesuit priests who were there, officials said. The killings shocked even Mexicans accustomed to high levels of violence.

The incident took place in the Tarahumara Mountains in the state of Chihuahua. To a large extent, the local region has been infiltrated in recent years by drug traffickers who grow poppy for heroin production and carry out illegal logging.

IN The Jesuits say in a statement that Rev. Javier Campos Morales and Rev. Joaquin Cesar Mora Salazar were killed in a church in the city of Serocahui. The religious order demanded justice and the return of the bodies of Mexican priests who had been taken out by armed men. The third victim has not been identified.

The killings are not an isolated event, the Jesuits said. “Sierra Tarahumara, like many other regions of the country, suffers from violence and neglect,” the statement said. “Every day men and women are killed at random, just like our brothers.”

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told a news conference this morning that gunmen rushed into the church, chasing another man. “They killed him, then the priests showed up, and it looks like they were killed, too,” he said. He added that authorities have information on the identities of the armed men, but did not provide details.

The Chihuahua government said the priests appeared to be “victims of circumstances.”

In recent years, hundreds of indigenous families have been forced to flee their homes in the Tarahumara Mountains, part of the growing resettlement crisis in Mexico as organized crime groups expand their territorial control. About 30 local leaders have been killed in the region in the past two decades, according to Mexican news.

The Jesuits are known in Mexico for their universities and their programs to help poor and violent communities. “Mexico’s Jesuits will not remain silent about the reality that is tearing our society apart,” the statement said. “We will remain present, working on our mission of justice, reconciliation and peace.

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