CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Seven people died violently on Wednesday and seven others were found shot to death alongside a highway elsewhere in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, authorities said.
Four men were fatally shot while driving through Felipe Angeles, a neighborhood on the west side of Ciudad Juarez, which lies just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.
A municipal employee was gunned down in the La Chaveña district, and two other men turned up dead in the Dieciseis de Septiembre neighborhood of Juarez, the scene of more than 2,400 murders this year.
Earlier Wednesday, soldiers discovered seven bodies some 570 kilometers (354 miles) southwest of Juarez, Chihuahua’s largest city, sources in the state Attorney General’s Office told Efe.
The victims were left face down with their hands tied behind their backs at a spot about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the spot where another man was found dead Tuesday.
In that instance, however, the killers decapitated the victim after shooting him.
Authorities suspect that all eight of the dead were among a group of people abducted last weekend in the nearby city of Hidalgo de Parral.
A minor was killed and six other people wounded Tuesday when gunmen fired on a bus near the town of Puerto Justo, not far from Hidalgo de Parral.
Also Tuesday, 10 suspected kidnappers were killed in a shootout with Mexican army soldiers and police in the northern state of Durango.
The clash began when soldiers and federal agents arrived in the small town of Ramon Corona to free six people who had been abducted, a source at the Durango Attorney General’s Office said.
The suspects began shooting when they detected the presence of the security forces. The soldiers and police returned fire and reportedly killed 10 of the assailants.
No arrests were made and the kidnap victims were freed unharmed, according to the source, who did not provide any details about the victims.
Both Chihuahua and Durango are battlegrounds in a turf war among Mexico’s powerful drug cartels.
The drug war is blamed for more than 16,000 deaths nationwide over the past three years and the 2009 death toll has already climbed above 7,000.
Since taking office three years ago, President Felipe Calderon has deployed 50,000 army soldiers and 20,000 Federal Police to twelve of Mexico’s 31 states in a bid to crush the cartels, but the pace of killings has only accelerated. EFE