Monday, July 12, 2010

Violence in Northern Mexico Leaves at Least 16 Dead


At least 16 people, including four minors, have been killed over the past two days in violent incidents in the northern Mexican states of Chihuahua, Durango and Coahuila, officials said.

In the city of Gomez Palacios, Durango, several individuals fired gunshots Thursday night at a group of people, most of them minors, who had gathered on a street.

Three teenagers died at the scene of the shooting and two others perished at a local hospital, the Durango state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

Two other teens and a 38-year-old man also were wounded in the attack and are in serious condition.

Separately the Coahuila AG’s office said state police repelled a shooting attack by suspected cartel enforcers, killing four of the assailants on a stretch of the Torreon-San Pedro highway.

The officers came under fire while carrying out investigative work, the prosecutors’ office said, adding that the attack occurred Thursday night.

Five civilians were wounded in the exchange of gunfire and were taken immediately by police to a local hospital. Two of the wounded are in serious condition and the other three are stable, the source added.

Separately, authorities in Chihuahua state reported the deaths of six men and a woman in different incidents Friday in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, apparently in attacks involving organized crime.

The seven victims have not been identified.

Mexico has been plagued in recent years by violence blamed on powerful cartels, with upwards of 23,000 killed since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug mobs nearly four years ago.

Calderon, who took office in December 2006, has deployed 50,000 soldiers and 20,000 Federal Police officers nationwide to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.

The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.

Mexico’s most powerful drug trafficking organizations, according to experts, are the Sinaloa, Tijuana, Gulf, Juarez, Los Zetas and Beltran Leyva cartels, and La Familia Michoacana.

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