Ex-governor of Mexican state of Colima shot and wounded

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Two armed men shot and seriously wounded a former governor of the Mexican Pacific state of Colima on Monday morning, state officials said, the latest violent episode involving one of the region’s leaders.

Fernando Moreno Peña, a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was shot in a restaurant in the city of Colima, the state capital, senior state security official Felix Vuelvas told a news conference.

Moreno, who was governor from 1997 to 2003, was shot six times, including a bullet to the neck which punctured his jugular vein, state health minister Agustin Lara told the same news conference, which was broadcast online.

Lara said Moreno’s condition was “delicate, but stable.”

The two suspects fled after the shooting, and police began a search for them, Vuelvas said. He said the motive for the attack was still under investigation.

Moreno’s successor as governor, Gustavo Vazquez Montes, died in a plane crash in February 2005, while Silverio Cavazos, who was elected to succeed Vazquez, was shot dead by gunmen in November 2010, about a year after his term ended.

A small state, Colima is home to Mexico’s biggest container port, Manzanillo, making it a point of strategic importance for powerful drug gangs that operate on the Pacific coast.

Well over 100,000 people have died in Mexico since 2007 in gang wars and their clashes with security forces.

Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Leslie Adler and Grant McCool