Ciudad Juarez(Mexico): At least 30 gunmen burst into a drug rehabilitation center in a Mexican border state capital and opened fire, killing 19 men and wounding others, police said. Gunmen also killed 20 people in another drug-plagued northern city.
The killings marked one of the bloodiest weeks ever in Mexico and came just weeks after authorities discovered 55 bodies in an abandoned silver mine, presumably victims of the country`s drug violence.
The bullet-riddled bodies of 18 men and two women were found yesterday in five different parts of Ciudad Madero, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, where violence has surged this year amid a turf battle between the Gulf cartel and its former ally, the Zetas gang of hit men.
Police had no information on suspects.
It was the deadliest day in Tamaulipas drug violence since 18 gunmen died in clashes with soldiers in April. Another round of killings occurred late Thursday at the Faith and Life center in Chihuahua city, about 350
kilometres south of Ciudad Juarez and the border with El Paso,
Texas, state police spokesman Fidel Banuelos said.
A day earlier unidentified assailants killed one man and wounded another at a rehab center in Ciudad Juarez, which has become one of the world`s most deadly cities because of drug violence.
More than 60 people have died in mass shootings at rehab clinics in a little less than two years. Police have said two of Mexico`s six major drug cartels are exploiting the centres to recruit hit men and drug smugglers, often threatening to kill those who don`t cooperate. Others are killed for failing to pay for drugs or betraying a dealer.
The men at the Faith and Life center were roused out of bed shortly before 11 pm and placed face-down along a hallway, the centre`s director, Cristian Rey Ramirez, told a news agency.
Ramirez was alerted to the attack by a telephone call from the centre`s pastor.
"He tells me, `You know what, come here because they just killed everyone,`" Rey said. "There was no warning."
The attackers left messages accusing the victims of being criminals, Banuelos said.
Four other people were hospitalised, two of them in critical condition, he said. The conditions of the other two were not immediately known.
Most of the victims ranged in age from 30 to 40, with some older, and included a blind man, said the Rev. Rene Castillo, a minister who gives weekly sermons at the center, which opened 11 years ago.