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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Guatemala campaign deaths mount
A girl peers out of a window of a bus plastered with election posters
The election campaign has been in full swing since May
Gunmen in Guatemala have shot dead a politician in another attack apparently linked to next month's presidential, parliamentary and local elections.

Werner Velasquez, mayor of a town on the Mexican border, was killed as he left the house of a candidate he was backing, officials said.

The campaign for the September poll has been described as the bloodiest since Guatemala's civil war ended in 1996.

More than 40 politicians, activists and party workers have been killed so far.

Observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and the European Union have voiced concern.

Candidates and workers from all political parties have been targeted.

Mr Velasquez, 29, was elected mayor of Santa Ana Huista, in the department of Huehuetenango in 2003, running as a candidate for the National Unity for Hope party (Une).

But he was not seeking re-election and was supporting a candidate of the rival Grand National Alliance party (Gana).

Organised crime

September's presidential election is being contested by a wide field of candidates.

Map of Guatemala

Une's candidate Alvaro Colom is ahead in the opinion polls but analysts say the election is likely to go to a run-off vote.

Une has seen 19 of its candidates and members murdered.

The party of Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu, who is also running, has come under attack three times this month.

Guatemala has struggled to overcome the legacy of its long civil war that left more than 200,000 dead or missing.

Last year, almost 6,000 people were killed in attacks carried out by organised criminals or in gang feuds.

Correspondents say many of the latest attacks have been carried out by organised criminals intent on increasing their influence over politicians at national and local level.





SEE ALSO
Crime dominates Guatemala campaign
10 May 07 |  Americas
Guatemala urged to act on murders
18 Jul 06 |  Americas
Guatemala's epidemic of killing
09 Jun 05 |  Americas
Country profile: Guatemala
16 Nov 04 |  Country profiles

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