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Gunmen kill seven at Mexico soccer match

Gunmen who attacked a group of youths playing soccer killed seven people in this violent northern border city, the local prosecutors office said Monday.

world Updated: Jan 25, 2011 12:51 IST

Gunmen who attacked a group of youths playing soccer killed seven people in this violent northern border city, the local prosecutors office said Monday.

The latest spasm of violence came on Sunday, on the eve of a one-day visit to Mexico by US secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss bilateral cooperation against the country's powerful drug cartels, among other issues.

The gunmen arrived at the soccer match in three vehicles and fired 180 rounds, "leaving three youths without life, and four others died later in local hospitals," the Chihuahua state prosecutor's forensic medicine service said.

Two other youths were still hospitalized with wounds.

The stadium where the shooting occurred was inaugurated just four months ago as part of a campaign called "We are all Juarez" that the local government has hoped will help stem a wave of drug-related violence.

But the government has had little success in squelching a war among drug gangs for control of smuggling routes into the United States.

Last year, 3,100 people were killed in Juarez, the epicenter of a conflict that has spread along the 3,000-kilometer (2,000-mile) US-Mexican border and other parts of the country. Nationwide, the death toll from the drug wars soared to 15,273 last year.

Since 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on the drug cartels, 34,600 people have been killed in drug-related violence.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, announcing Clinton's trip to Mexico, said last week that the security situation along the border was "a national security threat."

"These international criminal organizations, they have assets and weapons and people that certainly can challenge any security force," he said.

Clinton will meet in the colonial city of Guanajuato on Monday with Mexican foreign minister Patricia Espinosa.