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September 18, 2009

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Gunmen open fire in drug clinic, killing 10

GUNMEN burst into a drug treatment center in the northern Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez and shot to death 10 people, the second such mass killing this month.

Investigators said the attack was part of a turf battle between the Juarez and Sinaloa cartels in the city, which has seen the worst of Mexico's drug gang violence.

Gangs use some drug treatment centers to hide their members from rivals, Chihuahua state Attorney General Patricia Rodriguez said. She did not name suspects or say which cartel may have been behind the massacre.

Police say nine men and one woman were killed in the attack just before midnight on Tuesday at the Anexo de Vida center in Mexico's most violent city. Two people were seriously wounded.

Most of the victims are believed to have been recovering addicts staying at the facility.

"Why? Why them?" said Pilar Macias, weeping after she identified the body of her brother, Juan Carlos Macias, 39. "He was recovering, he wanted to get back on the right track and they didn't let him, they didn't give him a chance.

"This is going to kill my mother. She's very sick and this is going to kill her."

Macias said the mother had encouraged her son to enter the facility for treatment of his cocaine addiction three months ago.

Maria Hernandez also had come to the state prosecutor's office to identify the body of her 25-year-old son.

"He was good, he didn't hang out with gangs, he didn't have 'narco' friends," she said. "He just began with marijuana, and then ... they killed him."

Pools of dry blood and bloodied footprints were visible on Wednesday in the courtyard of the center in a poor neighborhood.

Regional Deputy Attorney General Alejandro Pariente said records showed the center had not been registered with the government and may have been operating clandestinely. He said 10 other centers in Ciudad Juarez have been closed for operating illegally.

On September 2, gunmen lined patients against a wall at another rehabilitation center in Ciudad Juarez and then riddled them with bullets, killing 18.

Five men were killed at another rehabilitation center in June, and in August 2008, gunmen barged into a pastor's sermon at a rehabilitation center and opened fire, killing eight people. Authorities have not said if any of the attacks are related.


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