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Election to Proceed in Northern Mexico Despite Killing

Electoral officials in Mexico say the vote for governor will proceed as planned on Sunday in the northern state of Tamaulipas, despite the murder of a politician who was favored to win the race.

Officials made the announcement Tuesday, one day after Rodolfo Torre, the candidate of the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, was killed in an attack being blamed on drug gangs. The PRI, however, has not named a replacement for Torre.

The candidate, along with several aides, died in an ambush while he was campaigning in the town of Valle Hermoso, near Mexico's border with the United States. It was Mexico's highest-level political murder in 16 years.

U.S. State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid says the United States was "shocked and saddened" by the murders. He described the incident as a tragedy, calling it evidence that the fight against drug cartels and criminal violence needs to continue, be strengthened and pursued vigorously.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has pledged to defend Mexico's democracy against drug gangs who have launched a campaign of intimidation against politicians running in local elections.

In May, a candidate for mayor from the ruling National Action Party, Jose Mario Guajardo, was killed along with his son in Valle Hermoso, which is just south of Brownsville, Texas.

Some 23,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Calderon took office in late 2006 and began cracking down on the cartels.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.