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Eight men gunned down in Mexico

Attackers shot dead eight men and piled their bodies on a pick-up truck in the southern state of Oaxaca, and gunmen kidnapped the mayor of a city on the outskirts of the northern industrial hub of Monterrey, Mexican authorities confirmed.

It was unclear whether Mexico's drug gangs were responsible for the Oaxaca killings or the kidnapping of Mayor Edelmiro Cavazos of the city of Santiago, in the northern border state of Nuevo Leon.

But Nuevo Leon state prosecutor Alejandro Garza described the abducted mayor as "leading the front and showing his face in the fight against organized crime".

Garza said the mayor was taken from his home by men wearing uniforms from a police agency that was dissolved years ago. A security guard for the mayor, who was released shortly after the abduction, reported the crime.

The area around Monterrey has been ravaged by bloody drug gang turf battles and attacks on political figures - once extremely rare - have become more commonplace.

In June, gunmen believed linked to a drug cartel assassinated the front-running candidate for governor of the border state of Tamaulipas, and a month earlier gunmen killed a candidate for mayor of a Tamaulipas town.

Police said the Oaxaca victims were apparently on a hunting trip in a rural part of Oaxaca near the Gulf coast when they were attacked. The state prosecutors' office said they were shot in the head and found on Sunday. One was 15 years old.

Meanwhile, in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, at least nine people were killed in attacks by gunmen at two parties on Sunday.

Five men were killed when gunmen burst into a house where a birthday party was being held and opened fire. Dozens of shells from the type of assault rifle favoured by drug gangs were found at the scene.

Prosecutors said that in the other attack, gunmen killed three women and a man. Prosecutor's spokesman Arturo Sandoval said the gunmen arrived in three vehicles, blocked off the street where the pool party was being held, and opened fire with assault rifles on a group of about 15 people.

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