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Gunmen storm party, kill 12 youths in Mexico border city

23 października, 2010

Gunmen burst into a late-night party and shot to death 12 young people and wounded at least 10 others in this violence-wracked Mexican border city, police said Saturday.

"We have an initial toll of 12 dead and more than 10 wounded who have been taken to different hospitals," a municipal police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

At least four women were among the dead, and a seven-year-old girl was wounded, police said, citing witnesses who described a chilling massacre that bore the hallmarks of drug cartel violence.

Local media said 15 people were killed and 18 wounded, but that toll could not be independently verified.

The attack occurred overnight Friday to Saturday at a party in a residential district known as Horizontes del Sur. Local media showed images of bodies strewn among cars parked in the garage of a house.

Neighbors told police that the gunmen arrived in seven vans.

"The victims were in the backyard of the house having a party when hooded men, in dark uniforms and with rifles, arrived in several vans, broke in and began shooting indiscriminately at those inside," the police official said.

The scale of the bloodshed was such that the wounded had to be rushed to hospitals in private vehicles and vans belonging to the coroner\'s office.

Ciudad Juarez, with a population of 1.2 million people across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, is at the epicenter of a ferocious drug war between two major drug cartels.

In just the past three years, an estimated 6,500 people have been murdered here as the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels battle it out for lucrative drug routes into the United States.

Drug violence has flared all along with northern border, punctuated by gruesome murders and massacres. On July 18, an armed gang killed 18 people at a party in Torreon, Coahuila in an episode reminiscent of the latest attack.

The violence has claimed the lives of more than 7,000 people this year, making it the deadliest year since President Felipe Calderon launched a war on the drug cartels in 2006.