Man charged with trying to murder US diplomat in Mexico

New York, Jan 11 (IANS) Zia Zafar, who may be of Indian origin, has been brought to the US and charged with attempted murder in the alleged shooting of a US consular official in Mexico, according to Assistant Attorney General Leslie Cardwell.

He was produced before a court in Alexandria, Virginia, on Tuesday after he was deported by Mexico on and arrested by US officials on Monday, prosecutors said.

The ethnicity of the 31-year-old American citizen is not clear as he has been described in different Mexican media variously as “Indian” or “Hindu”.

There has been no official word of his ethnicity or that he is of Indian origin. In Latin American Hindu and Indian are often used interchangeably to denote ethnicity, rather than religion.

Prosecutors said that Zafar shot the US vice consul in Guadalajara as he was driving out of a parking garage. The vice consul was taken to a local hospital, where he was undergoing treatment.

Mexican media identified the Vice Consul as Christopher Ashcraft.

TV station KABC said that Zafar was a medical student in Mexico according to his family’s former neighbors in Chino Hills, about 45 km from Los Angeles, and his landlord in Gudalajara.

Videos of shooting show Zafar wearing blue medical scrubs, the protective clothing worn by hospital staff, and a wig to disguise himself.

The Los Angeles TV station said that according to neighbors he had lived in the affluent suburb with his mother and sister. The mother had recently sold the house she had lived in for 15 years and moved out three weeks ago, the neighbors told the station.

Initial reports ruled out terrorism as a motive for the attack. Mexican news site Cronica.com said that Ashcraft had told US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that the attack was motivated by a visa dispute.

Cronica said that “according to unofficial information” from Mexican federal authorities, a .38 caliber pistol, a California-registered 2000 Honda Accord vehicle, and 16 packages with 336 grammes of marijuana were seized when Zafar was arrested from Guadalajara’s Providencia neighborhood.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arul.l@ians.in)

–IANS

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