October 24, 2010 in Nation/World

Mexico gunmen slay 13 at birthday party

Most victims were high school students
Olivia Torres Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Federal police officers stand outside a home Friday in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, where 13 young people were shot dead and 20 wounded in an attack during a party.
(Full-size photo)

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Gunmen stormed two neighboring homes and massacred 13 young people at a birthday party in the latest large-scale attack in this violent border city, even as a new government strategy seeks to restore order with social programs and massive police deployments.

Attackers in two vehicles pulled up to the houses in a lower-middle-class Ciudad Juarez neighborhood late Friday and opened fire on about four dozen partygoers gathered for a 15-year-old boy’s birthday party.

The dead identified so far were 13 to 32 years old, including six women and girls, Chihuahua state Attorney General Carlos Salas told reporters at a news conference at the crime scene. The majority of the victims were high school students, a survivor said.

Relatives of the victims gathered outside the prosecutors’ office, some weeping laments, some shouting demands for justice. All asked not to be identified for fear of reprisals.

“Why, my God, why?” shouted the mother of Daniel Figueroa, 16, after she identified her son’s body.

Salas said a total of 20 people were wounded, including a 9-year-old boy.

Residents of Ciudad Juarez, one of the world’s deadliest cities, no longer go out much to celebrate because of a violent turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels, who frequently attack their rivals in bars, restaurants, drug rehab centers and other public places.

One survivor of Friday’s massacre said the birthday boy’s mother had decided to hold the party at their home, precisely because she thought it was safer. The party spilled over into the neighboring home.

The boy, who did not want to be identified, said an attacker entered one of the homes and asked partygoers about a car parked in front of the home, suggesting the killers may have been following the vehicle. He survived the attack by throwing himself to the floor and other partygoers fell on top of him, shielding him from the bullets.

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