CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Drug-related violence in Mexico in recent hours has left 16 dead, 12 in the northern state of Chihuahua and four others in the western state of Jalisco, officials said.
The prosecutor’s office for the northern zone of Chihuahua said Friday that four people were shot dead and three others wounded in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s murder capital.
Local police said the victims of the gun violence were having a party in the patio of a home in the city’s downtown when a group of suspected cartel hit men entered and opened fire.
Authorities have not yet identified the victims and the motive for the killings remains unclear.
A hardscrabble city that lies across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, Ciudad Juarez is the scene of a war for control of smuggling routes into the United States between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels, a turf battle that has led to some 2,300 drug-related homicides thus far this year.
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 report released earlier this year.
Some 230,000 people have left Ciudad Juarez in the past three years as the death toll from the gang war topped 7,000, a non-governmental organization said in a recent report.
Separately, four people were shot and killed Friday morning on a road linking the towns of Guadalupe and Praxedis, near Ciudad Juarez. According to authorities, the assailants forced the victims to step out of an SUV and then gunned them down on the road.
Guadalupe, located 70 kilometers (43 miles) southeast of Ciudad Juarez, is one of the towns hardest hit by a wave of violence that has rocked the border region.
Elsewhere, four bodies were found Friday morning in Chihuahua city, the state capital, two of them discovered hanging from different bridges.
The first two bodies were covered with blankets and apparently had been shot dead next to a school, while the two others were found hanging from two bridges located near one another.
Police spokespersons said at least one sign was found at the scene but did not divulge the message it contained.
In yet another violent incident, four people were killed in the western town of Atotonilco, Jalisco, the Attorney General’s Office in that state said in a statement Friday.
The state AG’s office said the municipal police who found the bodies on a ranch reported that the victims had their hands tied and had suffered multiple bullet wounds.
State authorities have not yet determined the identity of the assailants nor how the quadruple homicide occurred.