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Page last updated at 09:04 GMT, Thursday, 22 October 2009 10:04 UK

Mexican city sees record murders

Mexican soldiers frisk suspects near the scene of a murder in Juarez
Thousands of troops are in Juarez to try to reinforce security

The murder rate in Ciudad Juarez on the Mexico-US border has reached an all-time high amid battles between rival drug cartels, Mexican officials say.

Up to mid-October, there were 1,986 killings in Juarez on the US-Mexico border - 815 more than last year.

The drug cartels are fighting to control smuggling routes into the US but also the city's own drug market.

Thousands of troops have been deployed in Juarez and across Mexico since late 2006 to try to tackle the drug gangs.

The murder rate for 2009 in Ciudad Juarez, a city of some 1.5 million people, is averaging about seven a day.

So far this month there have been 195 killings alone, officials said.

The upsurge in murders in Juarez is a result of an escalating turf war between the Sinaloa cartel, run by Mexico's most-wanted man Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman and the Juarez cartel, according to Victor Valencia, the public security secretary in the state of Chihuahua.

Booming market

Ciudad Juarez is located just over the border from El Paso, Texas, and has for years been one of the main transit points for cocaine passing from Mexico into the US.

The city also has a booming market in domestic drug consumption, which the two drug gangs would like to control, says the BBC's Stephen Gibbs in Mexico City.

Before the escalation in violence, Juarez had a murder rate of around 200 a year.

Now, our correspondent says, it is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

In late 2006, President Felipe Calderon began deploying extra security forces in attempt to take on the drug gangs. To date, some 45,000 troops and federal police have been sent to key areas.

This includes Juarez, where earlier this year several thousand troops were deployed in a attempt to contain the fighting.

Map of Mexican drug cartels



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