Mexican President blames drug violence on cartel rivalry

Mexican President Felipe Calderon blamed battling drug cartels for the upsurge in violence in Mexico that has killed at least 160 people in six days.

Mexico City: Mexican President Felipe
Calderon blamed battling drug cartels for the upsurge in
violence in Mexico that has killed at least 160 people in six
days.

Calderon, who has staked his presidency on tackling
Mexico`s powerful drug gangs, said the eruption of violence
was partly the result of cartels regrouping after being hit by
his administration`s efforts against them.
"We have struck important blows against all the cartels,
without exception," Calderon said in a television and radio
address to Mexicans late yesterday.

"This has created division between the criminal gangs,
which along with the traditional rivalries and the wars
between them has led to these episodes of violence."

The fight against the drug cartels "is not only the
president`s battle but is that of all Mexicans," Calderon
said.

Mexico is being rocked by an unprecedented wave of
violence as powerful drug cartels vie for rich drug
trafficking routes into the United States.

Nearly 23,000 people have been killed in the country
since Calderon`s crackdown began in 2006.

The president spoke hours after 15 people were killed
when Mexican soldiers engaged suspected drug cartel hitmen in
a fierce gun battle in the southern state of Guerrero.
The gun battle in a cemetery in the tourist town of
Taxco, some 170 kilometers south of Mexico City, was just the
latest in a string of bloody incidents in recent days.

Late last month a mass grave was also uncovered near
Taxco, when 55 bodies dumped in an air shaft of an abandoned
silver mine were found. It was one of the largest such graves
ever discovered in Mexico.

Guerrero state, on the Pacific coast, is an important
transit point for illegal shipments of cocaine and heroin
arriving from South America en route to the United States, the
world`s largest illegal drug market.

The gunmen involved in yesterday`s shoot-out were loyal
to a drug lord named Edgar Valdez, better known as "La
Barbie," the daily El Universal reported on its website,
citing an unidentified police source.

The US-born Valdez has been engaged since December in a
bloody turf war for the control of the Beltran Leyva drug
cartel following the death of one of the cartel leaders.

More than 40 people were killed in separate attacks on
Monday, including a prison riot between rival drug gangs in
the northwestern city of Mazatlan which left 28 dead.

Mexican authorities blamed the notorious "La Familia"
drug cartel for a separate outbreak of violence Monday when 12
police officers were killed in an ambush in western Michoacan
state.

PTI

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