ACAPULCO, Mexico - Authorities found the decapitated bodies of nine men in the southern state of Guerrero yesterday, and some of the victims have been identified as soldiers.

State Public Safety Secretary Juan Salinas Altes said the bodies were found on a major boulevard in the state capital, Chilpancingo, just a few hundred yards from where the state governor was scheduled to participate in a traditional religious procession later in the day.

Experts are still trying to identify the bodies, but a still-undetermined number of them are soldiers, Salinas Altes said. An army base is located nearby.

The bodies were found spread along the length of the boulevard, and nearby a sign was found that read "for every one of mine that you kill, I will kill 10."

Nine heads, some gagged with tape, were found in a bag nearby.

Mexico has been hit by a rising wave of drug-fueled violence, and officials estimate that more than 5,300 people have died in organized crime-related slayings so far in 2008.

Mexican drug cartels have increasingly taken to chopping the heads off their victims, who include rival traffickers and lawmen. On Aug. 28, a dozen decapitated bodies were found outside Merida, the capital of Yucatan state.

Two other severed heads were found on the same boulevard in Chilpancingo on Dec. 7 alongside a sign reading: "Soldiers who are supposedly fighting crime, and they turn out to be kidnappers. This is going to happen to you."

Scores of police and soldiers have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels in late 2006. *