CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — At least 17 people were killed over the weekend in Mexico's northern state of Chihuahua, including a women's rights activist in Ciudad Juarez, on the US border, local officials said Sunday.
President Felipe Calderon said he will keep 50,000 soldiers deployed in Chihuahua and other northern states bordering the United States to quell drug-related violence that since he took office in 2006 has killed more than 14,000 people.
Ten of the weekend murders took place in Ciudad Juarez -- Mexico's most violent city across the border from El Paso, Texas -- where some 8,500 troops have been sent to reinforce local law enforcement agencies, a state justice ministry official said.
One of those killed in Saturday-Sunday violence was 27-year-old Jesus Alfredo Portillo, a university student and rights activist, whose mother-in-law and women's group founder Marisela Ortiz recently complained of death threats against her.
Nine other people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez, bringing the death toll since the start of the year to more than 2,300. And seven more people were killed elsewhere in Chihuahua state, the local official added.
Calderon said fighting Mexico's powerful drug cartels was still his government's most important national security commitment, and that troop reinforcements would remain in the northern part of the country until further notice.
"It has been and will continue to be a priority to fight organized crime with the government's full power, including the armed forces," the president said Sunday in Estoril, Portugal, at a summit of Latin American nations, Spain and Portugal.