A drug gang kidnapped and killed six people near a town in the U.S.-Mexican border region Tuesday, prompting a series of gun battles with soldiers that left 15 others dead.
The violence started when gunmen kidnapped nine alleged members of a rival drug gang in Villa Ahumada and later executed six of them along the Pan-American Highway outside of the town, 80 miles south of Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, said Enrique Torres, spokesman for a joint military-police operation in Chihuahua state.
Assailants later released three of the men, although their whereabouts were not immediately known, Torres said.
Soldiers later caught up with the gunmen and a series of shootouts ensued, leaving 14 alleged gunmen and one soldier dead Tuesday, Torres said. Another soldier was wounded.
Riedel to review Afghanistan policy
The Obama administration plans to complete its overhaul of U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan by April, in advance of a critical NATO summit, the White House said Tuesday in announcing the new head of its review.
Before the reassessment is complete, President Barack Obama is likely to decide on the details of a U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
“The president will have several options in front of him, and I think he will make those decisions probably in the course of the next few days,” Gates said.
Stepping up its efforts in the region, the administration announced that Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and harsh critic of former President George W. Bush’s handling of Afghanistan, will serve as chairman of the White House review.
Now a scholar at the Brookings Institution, Riedel will report to Obama and to national security adviser James L. Jones. The White House review is one of several under way in the administration. Riedel’s assignment is to bring together the various strategy proposals.