Tue, May 06, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Mexico crime attacks leave 21 dead

CRIME WAVEFour police officers were killed in Sinaloa on Friday and 17 people died on Guerrero on Saturday at a hotel and on Sunday in an attack on a ranch

AFP , MEXICO CITY

At least 21 people died in three separate incidents of organized crime at the weekend in Mexico, with the most gruesome attack, by hired hitmen, occurring in southern Guerrero State.

About 60 gunmen stormed a ranch in Guerrero on Sunday, killing 10 people and leaving another six wounded, authorities said, after the second such incident in two days.

The attack with automatic weapons took place in Petatlan, on the property of a prominent rancher.

“Early this morning [Sunday], shortly after midnight, some 60 gunmen launched an assault on the home of Rogaciano Alba Alvarez, head of the Guerrero Cattlemen’s Association, with at least nine people killed and another six seriously injured,” a state official said.

Another person died later on the way to the hospital. Alba Alvarez was not among those killed.

Hitmen arrived at the Alba ranch in six pickup trucks and opened fire with AK-47s, killing the ranch workers before “they apparently also kidnapped one of his daughters,” the official said.

The violence came just 24 hours after Alba narrowly escaped an attack by another hit squad on Saturday at a hotel in Iguala, also in Guerrero State. Seven people were killed in that incident and another eight wounded.

The hotel was hit as the ranchers were preparing an industry convention.

Alba, who also was targeted in an attack in 2006, was mayor of Petatlan between 1993 and 1995. Local media have linked him to paramilitary groups accused of killing 17 members of a local rural workers organization.

Meanwhile, four police officers were killed in an ambush in the northern state of Sinaloa late on Friday, authorities said. A local media report said another two local police officers had also been killed.

Federal and state authorities on Friday arrested 13 hitmen in Sinaloa and seized weapons and US$379,000 as part of the government’s national anti-organized crime operation.

Since December 2006, Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s federal government has deployed 36,000 military troops and thousands of police around the country in an operation aimed at clamping down on organized crime.

Officials claimed the rising death toll showed that criminals were panicking about the clampdown.

“This reaction by organized crime reflects how the Mexican government is fighting it in an unprecedented and systematic way,” Public Safety chief Genaro Garcia Luna said at a weekend ceremony honoring policemen slain in recent days.

So far, organized crime has been behind a total of 1,100 deaths throughout Mexico since the beginning of this year, a tally by El Universal newspaper on Sunday said.

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