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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July, 2003, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
Women killed on Mexico border
Investigators at the site where the women were found
The women had been missing since the weekend
Three women have been found murdered near the US-Mexican border.

The discovery came just a day after the Mexican Government launched a major security programme to stop a wave of killings there.

The women, believed to be in their early 20s, were discovered in a shallow grave in the desert on the outskirts of Ciudad Juarez.

Since 1993, more than 250 women and girls have been killed in or near Juarez, a city of more than one million across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Victims' relatives have accused local police and prosecutors of not doing enough to solve the murders, which rights groups have dubbed "feminicide".

On Tuesday, the Mexican Government announced that more federal police officers and agents were being sent to the city to boost security and help with the investigations.

One of the crucial questions relating to many of the murders is whether they are the work of a serial killer or killers, or a string of separate attacks prompted by a variety of motives.

Executions

Local authorities said the bodies of the three women were concealed under a thin covering of sand.

"What we do know is they weren't sexually assaulted," spokesman Mauro Conde from the state prosecutors office told the Associated Press.

"This doesn't appear to be the work of a serial killer... It seems more like a series of executions, like you would find after a robbery," he said.

Family members said the women had set off with a man named Felipe de Jesus Machado on Sunday but never returned home, AP reported.

Police have discovered his burned out car and are looking for him.

Whatever the motive for the latest murders, correspondents say the killings are set to increase once again the sense of unease among women in Juarez.

Despite a series of arrests, bodies have continued to turn up.

Many of the victims were raped, strangled and mutilated, and their bodies were left in mass graves in the desert.

Last year, a coalition of women's groups from Mexico and the United States called for a joint taskforce to investigate the murders.

The victims have been mostly young female assembly line workers in the "maquiladoras" - component factories owned by multi-national companies drawn to the area by cheap labour and tax breaks.


SEE ALSO:
US-Mexico murder hotline set up
30 Mar 03  |  Americas
Web appeal over Mexican murders
16 Feb 03  |  Americas


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