Red Cross to get armed escorts in violent Mexican city

Associated Press |

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Red Cross ambulances in the Mexican city of Salamanca will get armed escorts for the most risky calls, after the organization briefly closed over the weekend because of violence.

The government of the north-central state of Guanajuato said Sunday state or local police will accompany Red Cross ambulances "on the high risk or high-impact calls." That would presumably be calls related to gunshot victims.

In a statement, the Mexican Red Cross said it "is an impartial and neutral institution before all conflicts and its purpose is to relieve human suffering," adding the "#We are not part of the conflict" hashtag.

On Saturday, a man wounded by gunfire was abducted by gunmen from a Red Cross ambulance in Salamanca, which has been plagued by violence between fuel theft gangs due to its gasoline refinery. The Guanajuato state chapter of the first-aid group shuttered operations in the city of 270,000 but later resumed ambulance service.

Earlier this month, a woman with gunshot wounds was executed inside an ambulance in Mexico's Pacific state of Guerrero, and paramedics were reportedly beaten by the perpetrators. In northern Mexico several years ago, private hospitals and ambulances sometimes refused to treat or transport gunshot victims.

Violence in Mexico has worsened in the last year, with homicides running at their highest rate on record.

Last week, in the central state of Puebla, a 78-year-old priest was apparently tortured during a robbery attempt.

The archdiocese of Puebla said in a statement that Rev. Ambrosío Arellano Espinoza had been found with severe burns on his hands and feet and "was apparently the victim of a robbery." It said the priest was at a hospital in stable but serious condition.

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