Two Mexican priests were found murdered Monday, just hours after they were kidnapped from the low-income neighborhood where they served in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz.
Prosecutors said the two men were abducted from their church in the state’s northern city of Poza Rica on Sunday. The priests were found with bullet wounds in the municipality of Papantla, close to where they were kidnapped.
A third man, a church assistant, managed to escape the kidnappers. He was found on Monday and put under police protection.
The Mexican Council of Bishops identified the slain priests as Alejo Nabor Jimenez Juarez and Jose Alfredo Juarez de la Cruz.
“We express our pain and indignation at the violence committed against them,” the Bishops said in a statement.
Poza Rica and it surrounding environs has been the scene of drug-related gang violence for many years. But it’s unclear why the Catholic clergymen were targeted.
Priests have been killed before in Mexico, but many of the killings have occurred in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero. What motivated the abductors to slay the priests remains unclear.