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6 young men killed in shooting in Mexican capital

6 young men killed in shooting in Mexican capital
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Thursday, October 28, 2010 - 11:56am

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Gunmen killed six young men Thursday in a gritty neighborhood of the Mexican capital, an alarming attack in a city that has largely been spared the kind of mass shootings common in drug trafficking hot spots.

Mexico City Attorney General Miguel Angel Mancera said he did not know if drug gangs were involved in the middle-of-the night shooting in Tepito, a working-class neighborhood just north of the colonial center. Drug dealing is rampant there, but Mancera said there also have been problems with disputes among carjacking gangs.

Still, the attack fueled fears of cartel-style violence reaching Mexico City.

"Massacres have arrived in the Federal District," declared El Universal newspaper, counting the shooting as the latest in a string of massacres that have occurred across the country over the past week.

Another attack occurred near the border city of Ciudad Juarez early Thursday: a gang opened fire on two passenger buses carrying factory workers, killing four people and injuring more than a dozen.

The two attacks raised to five the number of major shootings in Mexico in less than a week. All have occurred in different parts of the country and appear unrelated.

In the capital, the men in their late teens and early 20s were hanging out together on a street when the gunmen arrived, Mancera told the Televisa network. He said angry words were exchanged, and the gunmen opened fire.

Bullet casings of two different calibers — 9 mm and .223 mm — were found at the scene, Mancera said, suggesting there were at least two gunmen. Police were interviewing relatives and witnesses to determine the background of the victims and a possible motive.

"It is a complicated zone, a very delicate zone," Mancera said. "We would like to reassure the population that we are going to find those responsible."

Outside Ciudad Juarez, armed men in several vehicles attacked buses carrying factory workers home early Thursday morning, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state attorney general's office.

Three women and a man were killed and more than two dozen were wounded, many of them seriously, Sandoval said.

There were no known suspects or motive in the attack on a highway in the Valle de Juarez region, where a string of small towns have been under siege from drug gangs trying to control trafficking routes. Mayors and police chiefs have been killed in the area, and even churches have been attacked.

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, has become one of the world's deadliest cities since a turf war erupted nearly three years ago between the Juarez and the Sinaloa cartels. More than 6,500 people have been killed in the city since.

The shootings occurred a day after gunmen killed 15 people at a car wash in Tepic, a city in the Pacific coast state of Nayarit.

Over the weekend, gunmen massacred 14 young people at a birthday party in Ciudad Juarez, and 13 recovering addicts were killed in an attack on a drug rehab center in Tijuana.

While crime is a major problem in Mexico City, cartel-style violence has been less common.

Still, shootings between cartel gunmen and security forces have occasionally erupted during operations to arrest kingpins in the Mexico City area, one of the world's largest metropolises when an estimated 20 million people.

The most recent was the Aug. 20 capture of U.S.-born Edgar "La Barbie" Valdez Villarreal, a suspected drug lord who was allegedly fighting for control of Morelos, a state that borders the capital. While the arrest of "La Barbie" on the outskirts of Mexico City was peaceful, a shooting on a highway of the city that day killed one of his suspected accomplices.

Disputes between "La Barbie" and his rivals have also been blamed for several bodies found dumped in some neighborhoods of the capital this year.

The fighting between the two factions — remnants of the crumbling Beltran Leyva cartel — stretches southwest to the Pacific coast, including the resort city of Acapulco, where Mayor Jose Luis Avila Sanchez warned people to stay indoors after dark.

"The message is for everyone in Acapulco to keep working ... and avoid going out at night, avoid nightly activities whenever possible," Sanchez told reporters Wednesday night.

It was an extraordinary pronouncement for a city whose economy depends deeply on nightclubs, restaurants and bars.

At least six people were killed in Acapulco on Wednesday, including three men and five women whose bodies were found bound and blindfolded.

Marines, meanwhile, battled with gunmen in an operation to free a kidnapped man. One person was killed in the shooting, and the abducted man was freed, the Navy said in a statement Thursday.

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