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World News

March 15, 2010

3 with ties to US consulate killed in Mexican city

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — A U.S. consulate employee and her husband were shot to death as they drove in this drug-plagued Mexican city with their baby in the back seat, minutes after gunmen killed the husband of another consular employee and wounded his two children, officials said yesterday.

President Barack Obama expressed outrage over the killings, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon said he was indignant and promised a swift investigation.

Several U.S. citizens have been killed in Mexico's drug war, most of them people with family ties to Mexico. It is very rare for American government employees to be targeted, although assailants hurled grenades at the U.S. consulate in the northern city of Monterrey in 2008.

U.S. State Department spokesman Fred Lash said the three slain people had attended the same social event before the attacks Saturday. But police said they had no information on a possible motive or whether the attacks were related.

Civilians have increasingly gotten caught in the middle of drug gang violence that has made Ciudad Juarez one of the deadliest cities in the world, with more than 2,500 people killed last year alone. At least 11 people were killed in Ciudad Juarez over the weekend.

The three died during a particularly bloody weekend in Mexico, with nearly 50 people killed in apparent gang violence. Nine people were killed in a gang shootout early yesterday in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, one of Mexico's spring break attractions.

The State Department authorized U.S. government employees at Ciudad Juarez and five other U.S. consulates in northern Mexico to send their family members out of the area because of concerns about rising drug violence.

The cities are Tijuana, Nogales, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros.

Lash said the decision was based not only on Saturday's killings but also on a wider pattern of violence and threats in northern Mexico in recent weeks. The State Department noted the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has advised American citizens to delay unnecessary travel to parts of the Mexican states of Durango, Coahuila and Chihuahua.

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