Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Fifteen people, including two women, were murdered in separate incidents in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, and considered the most dangerous city in Mexico, while two people were killed in shootings in three other states, officials said.
A family traveling in an automobile was attacked early Saturday by unidentified individuals in the northern section of Ciudad Juarez, which is in Chihuahua state.
A man and a woman died in the shooting, while two children between the ages of 5 and 7 were unharmed.
The couple was forced out of the vehicle and shot at point-blank range in front of the children, prosecutors said.
Two men were gunned down a short time later in the Villas de Salvarcar neighborhood, while the bullet-riddled body of a man was found in Valle de los Olivos, a neighborhood in southern Juarez, and a fourth man was shot to death in Loma Blanca.
Nine other people, including a woman killed as she left a gym, were gunned down Friday night in the border city.
Juarez has been plagued by drug-related violence for several years.
The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when more than 800 people were killed, then it more than doubled to 1,623 in 2008, according to press tallies, with the number of killings soaring to 2,635 last year.
Ciudad Juarez, with 191 homicides per 100,000 residents, was the most violent city in the world in 2009, registering a higher murder rate than San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Caracas and Guatemala, two Mexican non-governmental organizations said in a recent report.
The death toll for this year currently stands at around 350, including 16 people massacred on Jan. 31 while attending a birthday party in Villas de Salvarcar.
The killings have continued despite the recent restructuring of the joint army-police operation targeting drug traffickers in Chihuahua state.
Two people, meanwhile, were killed and nine others arrested in shootouts between the security forces and gunmen in the states of Tabasco, Tamaulipas and Sinaloa, the Public Safety Secretariat said Sunday.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence blamed on powerful cartels.
Last year, according to the El Universal newspaper, was the deadliest in Mexico in the past decade, with 7,724 people killed in violent incidents attributed to organized crime groups.
So far this year, drug-related violence has claimed the lives of some 1,300 people, the daily says.