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Page last updated at 10:36 GMT, Monday, 14 July 2008 11:36 UK

Eight shot dead in Mexico attack

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Eight people, including two youths of 17 and a 12-year-old girl, were shot dead when gunmen opened fire on their cars, Mexican officials say.

The attack happened as the victims were waiting at a traffic light in the city of Guamuchil in the state of Sinaloa.

Hours earlier gunmen in Mazatlan, on Sinaloa's coast, killed a policeman and then took dozens of people hostage in a restaurant before escaping.

Mexico has seen a surge in drug-related violence and killings during 2008.

According to officials, the Guamuchil attack occurred in the early hours of Sunday.

Gunmen travelling in three vehicles opened fire with automatic weapons on four other cars, officials said. Seven people were killed outright, one died later in hospital and another five were injured.

Among the victims were a 12-year-old girl, two young men aged 17 and two 18-year-old women, Mexican media reported.

A local newspaper, El Debate, said that police found some 300 bullet casings at the scene of the shooting.

It is not clear whether the victims' cars were targeted or whether they were caught up in a shootout between rival drug gangs.

Hostages

On Saturday, gunmen in the Pacific port city of Mazatlan shot dead a police officer who resisted their attempts to kidnap him.

The attackers then took refuge in a shopping centre to escape police and soldiers.

Once there they held some 40 people hostage in a restaurant for several hours while they negotiated a deal with the police to escape.

Some 1,700 people have been killed in Mexico this year, as rival drug gangs fight for control of trafficking routes and fight the police and army trying to stop them.

Sinaloa - home to Mexico's most wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel - is one of the areas worst hit by drug-related violence.


SEE ALSO
Six burned bodies found in Mexico
08 Jul 08 |  Americas
Mexico-US states hold crime talks
29 May 08 |  Americas
Mexico extends army's drugs fight
28 May 08 |  Americas
Mexico drug-related killings soar
24 May 08 |  Americas
Gunmen kill top Mexican policemen
11 May 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Mexico
01 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Mexico
01 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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