At least 24 people, including nine people slain during a prayer service, have been killed in separate incidents of gang violence in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.
At least 23 people died in the most violent 24 hours in recent years in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua, police and officials said Thursday,
The grim toll included nine people slain during a prayer service.
A gang armed with AK-47s sprayed the mass in a drug rehabilitation center with bullets late Wednesday in the border town of Ciudad Juarez, killing eight patients and their minister, police said.
At least five people were seriously injured in the shooting, as violence escalated in Mexico's northern border regions, where drug gangs are fighting for territory.
After the shooting, the assassins left the scene and calmly passed a group of security forces, who did nothing to detain them, said a statement from the municipal office of public security, quoting witnesses.
Two people were also killed in a nearby rehabilitation center last weekend.
Meanwhile, 14 others were found dead Thursday in separate incidents in Chihuahua state, eight of them in volatile Ciudad Juarez, including a local police officer and a lawyer executed in his office.
Police found two bodies in a house where drugs were being stored, and four others lay in the street with bullet wounds.
Ciudad Juarez is the battleground in the power struggle between the Sinaloa drug cartel, headed by fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, and the Juarez cartel, led by Vicente Carrillo Fuentes.
Since Friday more than 60 people have been assassinated in the town, which has registered 780 homicides so far this year.
The battle for control of the US border expands throughout Chihuahua state, and five men were kidnapped and later executed on Thursday in state capital Chihuahua town, the local prosecutor's office said.
Another man died in hospital from bullet wounds.
Federal authorities have deployed more than 36,000 soldiers across the country, including 2,500 in Ciudad Juarez, in an effort to combat drug trafficking and related violence, but some 2,000 people have been killed so far this year.
Date created : 2008-08-15