MEXICO CITY — Authorities are investigating the murders of six people, four of whom were hung from highway overpasses, near the twin beach destinations of Los Cabos in Baja California Sur state, which has seen an explosion of violence this year.

The state’s murder rate of 50 per 100,000 residents now ranks third in Mexico, trailing only Colima and Guerrero. Violence has surged over the past three years as the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels battle for territory in the state.

The bodies were found early Wednesday hanging from three overpasses, two of which were above highways running to the airports in La Paz and Los Cabos, raising the question of whether organized crime was specifically trying to hurt the tourism sector, which generates about 90 percent of the economic activity in Los Cabos.

These were the first known cases of bodies hung from bridges, a public terror tactic seen in other cities such as Nuevo Laredo and Mexico City. The killings raised fears that cartel violence could affect tourism as it has to devastating effect in Acapulco in Guerrero state.

On Thursday, Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of Los Cabos Tourism Board, tried to allay those fears by saying that the public and private sectors have invested heavily in security.

“We are confident that the destination will remain safe,” Esponda said.

He outlined measures taken in Los Cabos in recent months to confront the violence: creation of a rapid response network to share information among hotels and businesses about security issues; expansion of surveillance cameras to 250 by the end of year from the current 40; and construction of a new marine base as the military presence expands.––

AP writer Gabriel Alcocer in Cancun, Mexico contributed to this report.