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18 killed in northern Mexico drug violence

world Updated: Jan 11, 2010 07:08 IST
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Officials said 18 people were killed over the weekend in northern Mexico, eight of them in Ciudad Juarez, where the murder rate has already more than doubled this year compared to 2009.

Ciudad Juarez, ground zero for drug-related violence, has seen 94 homicides since January 1, against 46 for the same period last year, authorities said on Sunday.

Last year, drug violence claimed more than 2,500 victims in this city across from El Paso, Texas.

The eight murders on Saturday included a passerby riddled with bullets from a passing car, and a shootout between a military patrol and drug traffickers that left two shooters dead, the Chihuahua state attorney general's office said.

Elsewhere, eight people were murdered in the state capital, also named Chihuahua, and two others in the Nuevas Casas Grandes township, it added.

President Felipe Calderon has dispatched 50,000 troops in a nationwide crackdown on organised crime but has so far failed to stem the tide of drug-related violence that has left 15,000 people dead since the initiative was launched three years ago.