Gunmen rescued two inmates who were being transferred from a hospital to a prison and killed the two guards escorting the men in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital, a military spokesman said.
The incident occurred Tuesday morning at the intersection of Adolfo Lopez Mateos street and La Raza avenue in the northeastern section of the border city, Military Police spokesman Jaime Torres said.
“Regrettably, the two guards died when they were attacked by a convoy of armed men, who rescued the two inmates who had been taken to the General Hospital to receive medical care and were on their way back” to the prison, Torres said.
One of the escaped prisoners has still not been identified, prison spokesman Jorge Chairez said.
“We have only identified one of the inmates as Juan Pablo Castillo, who was serving a sentence, among others, for crimes against health (drug trafficking) since last October,” Chairez said.
Guards Arturo Morales Batres and Jose Manuel Alvarez Flores died in the incident, while guard Miguel Angel Montes was wounded, Chairez said.
More than 2,000 gangland killings have occurred this year in Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, press tallies and official figures show.
August was the most violent month in the border city since the drug-related violence took off in 2008, with 327 homicides registered by Chihuahua state prosecutors.
A total of 291 murders, or an average of just over nine per day, were reported in July.
June ranks as the second most violent month of the year, with 313 homicides.
There were 262 killings in May, 205 in April, 240 in March, 163 in February and 227 in January.
The number of killings of women also hit a new high in August, with 40.
A total of 82 police officers from different agencies and prison guards have been killed this year in Juarez.
The Juarez and Sinaloa cartels, backed by hitmen from local street gangs, have been fighting for control of the border city.
Ciudad Juarez, where more than 6,000 people have been murdered since 2008, has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
The murder rate took off in the border city of 1.5 million people in 2007, when 310 people were killed, then it more than tripled to 1,607 in 2008, according to state Attorney General’s office figures, with the number of killings climbing 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 report released earlier this year.
Some 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence since President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
More than 7,000 gangland killings have occurred so far this year in Mexico, Attorney General Arturo Chavez Chavez said last month.
The death toll for all of 2009 was 7,724.