12 bodies pulled from Mexico well after band kidnapped
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Monterrey, Mexico—The fate of a Colombian-style music band missing in Mexico grew clearer and grimmer Monday after authorities pulled four of their bodies from a well and tried to identify eight more.
The 14 musicians and four crew members of Kombo Kolombia were whisked away by gunmen who stormed a party in the town of Hidalgo early Friday, said Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene.
One of the members managed to escape and led authorities to the well in the nearby town of Mina on Sunday, Domene told reporters.
The four bodies that were identified by family members had bullet wounds and showed signs of torture. They included Colombian keyboardist Heiner Cuellar and three Mexicans, a saxophone player, a singer and a roadie.
According to the survivor’s testimony, the rest of the band “could be in there,” Domene said. Officials originally said 20 band members had been kidnapped, but they now say it was 18.
Kombo Kolombia played a show in a building that people rent for parties and there were 50 people there when the gunmen barged in, forcing the band to climb into vehicles.
A preliminary investigation indicated that it was a “direct action against members of this group,” Domene said.
Police found the musicians’ vehicles and belongings after their disappearance.
Nuevo Leon is one of the states hardest hit by the wave of murders, kidnappings and extortion in Mexico’s drug war, which has left more than 70,000 people dead since 2006.
Musicians have been targeted by gangs too, notably artists playing “narcocorridos,” a northern music style that glorifies the exploits of drug lords.
Valentin Elizalde, a famous banda music singer who counted drug traffickers among his fans, was shot dead in November 2006 in the northeastern city of Reynosa, the turf of the Gulf cartel. His murder remains unsolved.
In December 2007, the singer of the group K-Paz de la Sierra, Sergio Gomez, was kidnapped after a show in the western state of Michoacan and his body was found with signs of torture a day later. Mexican media say La Familia cartel killed him.
But Kombo Kolombia played Colombian music known as vallenato. Most of the band members are from Nuevo Leon.
The group played in bars and dance halls in the northern industrial city of Monterrey. One of those bars, Sabino Gordo, was the scene of a massacre in which gunmen killed 20 people in July 2011.
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