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Page last updated at 00:26 GMT, Sunday, 17 August 2008 01:26 UK

Mexico's drug killings 'soaring'

Mexican soldier stands by piles of confiscated marijuana - file photo
Mexico's murder rate has climbed dramatically in the past two years

Drug-related murders in Mexico have already exceeded last year's total despite the deployment of 30,000 troops to tackle the issue, media reports say.

The Mexican newspaper, El Universal, said 2,682 people across Mexico had been killed since the start of this year, compared to 2,673 in 2007.

The northern state of Chihuahua on the US border was by far the worst hit.

President Felipe Calderon pledged to curb drug-related killings when he came to power in December 2006.

Troops deployed

According to El Universal, more than one-third of this year's drug-related killings occurred in Chihuahua, where one 20-day period saw 326 murders.

Map

The state has been hit by 1,026 deaths since January, including 780 in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, where local drug gangs are battling the powerful Sinaloa cartel.

On Wednesday night, gunmen killed eight patients and injured six others in an attack on a drug rehabilitation centre in the city.

About 40 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez in the past week.

In other states, drug-related violence killed 516 people in Sinaloa, 159 in Baja California, 134 in Guerrero and 117 in Michoacan, El Universal reported.

Mexican authorities have deployed more than 36,000 soldiers across the country since 2007, including 2,500 in Ciudad Juarez, in an effort to combat drug trafficking and drug-related violence.

Last week, the authorities launched an anti-kidnapping squad amid public anger over the abduction and killing of a prominent businessman's son.

The decomposed body of Fernando Marti, 14, who was kidnapped in June, was found in the boot of a car in Mexico City even though his family had reportedly paid a ransom.


SEE ALSO
Mexican gunmen kill drug patients
15 Aug 08 |  Americas
Mexican fury grows at kidnappings
11 Aug 08 |  Americas
Mexican navy seizes cocaine sub
18 Jul 08 |  Americas
Mexico-US states hold crime talks
29 May 08 |  Americas
Mexico extends army's drugs fight
28 May 08 |  Americas
Gunmen kill top Mexican policemen
11 May 08 |  Americas
Country profile: Mexico
01 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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