comments_image Comments

Mexican police search for 'Diana, bus driver hunter'

A group of women protest against violence against women in Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico City, on November 10, 2009
A group of women wear a huge black piece of cloth during a protest against violence against women in Ciudad Juarez, in front of the "Hemiciclo a Juarez" in Mexico City, on November 10, 2009. Authorities are seeking a woman accused of killing two bus drive

Authorities are seeking a woman accused of killing two bus drivers in northern Mexico amid claims that the murders were committed by a vigilante avenging rapes, officials said Tuesday.

Local media have received an anonymous message signed by "Diana, bus driver hunter," claiming to act as "an instrument of vengeance" for the sexual abuse committed by drivers in Ciudad Juarez, a border city with a dark record of violence against women.

Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state prosecutor's office, told AFP that the email, sent over the weekend, "has been included in the investigation."

Witnesses said a woman wearing a blonde wig shot the drivers in the head after stopping the buses last week. Sandoval said prosecutors believe they were either crimes of passion or motivated by vengeance.

The drivers were working on a route used by women who work in assembly plants known as "maquiladoras," and who regularly suffer sexual abuse as they head to their night shifts.

Authorities are investigating 12 cases of female passengers allegedly sexually assaulted by drivers. Investigators are looking into whether the killer is among the women.

Officials are also investigating any links with an arson attack against a bus at dawn on Tuesday. The vehicle was set ablaze after gasoline was poured on it, said Fire Chief Ramon Lucero.

The anonymous message from "Diana" stated: "My colleagues and I have suffered in silence, but they can no longer keep us quiet."

"We were victims of sexual violence by drivers who worked during the night shift at the (plants) in Juarez. While many people know about our suffering, nobody defends us or does anything to protect us," it said.

"They think that we are weak because we are women," the message said, warning that there would be more deaths.

"I am an instrument of vengeance."

Authorities have drawn up a profile of the suspected killer and launched an operation to find her with undercover agents in buses.

Witnesses describe her as a woman in her 50s, 1.65 meters tall (5-feet-four), with a dark complexion.

Ciudad Juarez, which lies at the border with Texas, gained notoriety in the 1990s when the bodies of hundreds of women began to appear in the desert bearing signs of extreme sexual violence.

Many of the victims were women who had come from other parts of the country to work in one of the city's assembly plants following a manufacturing boom generated by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

In several cases, the victims disappeared after they left the plants at dawn.

Share