Mexico gunmen 'kill 19' in rehab centre raid

Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Friday, 11 June 2010 15:31 UK

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Gunmen have stormed a rehabilitation centre in a Mexican city, shooting dead 19 people and wounding at least four others, police say.

The killings happened in the northern city of Chihuahua, about 210 miles (350km) south of Ciudad Juarez and the border with El Paso, Texas.

One report said up to 30 gunmen were involved in the attack.

Chihuahua has been at the centre of a turf war between drugs cartels fighting over lucrative smuggling routes.

Chihuahua state police spokesman Fidel Banuelos said the attackers had left messages accusing the victims of being criminals.

The attack took place on Thursday night, but has only just been reported.

An unnamed police official told AFP news agency that "more than 30 gunmen arrived aboard six trucks".

They moved to the second floor of the Templo Cristiano Fe y Vida (Christian Faith and Life Temple) and fired large-calibre weapons at patients and employees before fleeing, the official said.

Previous attacks

Rehabilitation centres in Mexico have been the target of previous attacks.

In September 2009, 10 people were killed in an attack on a centre in Ciudad Juarez. It came weeks after a similar attack in the same city killed another 18.

Correspondents say such shootings are blamed on drug traffickers, who accuse the clinics of protecting dealers from rival gangs.

Last year, Chihuahua state security minister, Victor Valencia de los Santos, said that rehab centres had become the breeding ground for criminal gangs.

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