Bernandino Hernandez  /  AP
Mexican Navy soldiers guard the perimeter as civil protection and forensic workers search for bodies buried at a field in the town of Tuncingo, southern Mexico on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010.
updated 11/3/2010 9:21:23 PM ET 2010-11-04T01:21:23

A U.S. university student was shot to death, becoming the fifth American slain in this violent border city in six days, Mexican and U.S. authorities said Wednesday.

Eder Diaz, a student at the University of Texas at El Paso, was killed Tuesday evening along with a classmate, the U.S. Consulate in Ciudad Juarez said in a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press. The consulate said it had not yet confirmed whether the other victim was also a U.S. citizen.

An investigator from the state of Chihuahua, where Ciudad Juarez is located, identified the second victim as Manuel Acosta, and said that he was from Chihuahua's capital of the same name.

The investigator, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case, told the AP that gunmen opened fire on a car in which Diaz and Acosta were traveling.

Diaz, 23, was a business major, while Acosta, 25, was a computer information-systems major, university spokesman Steve Lazarin said.

Diaz was the fifth U.S. citizen to be killed in Ciudad Juarez since Friday. All of the victims were from El Paso, which is located across the border from Ciudad Juarez.

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Luis Carlos Araiza, 15, a student at Bowie High School in El Paso, and Joanna Herrera, 27, were fatally shot while traveling in a BMW sport utility vehicle near the Zaragoza international bridge Saturday. Mexican officials said they had criminal records but would not elaborate.

Edgar Lopez, 35, was shot and killed Saturday on the patio of a residence in Ciudad Juarez, while on Friday, Lorena Izaguirre, 24, was killed at a tortilla shop.

Ciudad Juarez has become one of the world's deadliest cities amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels. More than 2,000 people have been killed this year in the city.

The most recent attacks represented the deadliest week for Americans in Mexico since Feb. 1, when four U.S. citizens were killed in different parts of the country. The largest previous single-city death toll for Americans was on May 9, 2009, when three U.S. citizens were slain in Tijuana, across the border from San Diego, California. 

19 bodies found in mass grave
Elsewhere in Mexico, police recovered at least 19 bodies Wednesday in a mass grave identified in a narco-video as the burial site for 20 men who were kidnapped a month ago in the resort city of Acapulco.

Police did not yet know if the bodies found in the grave in Tres Palos, a town just south of Acapulco, were those of the men abducted Sept. 30 while visiting the resort city from neighboring Michoacan state, said Fernando Monreal, investigative police chief for Guerrero state.

Police began digging at the site after a video appeared on YouTube in which two men — their hands apparently tied behind their backs and answering questions from an unseen interrogator — say they killed "the Michoacanos" and buried them in the area.

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Two bodies wearing the same clothes as the pair seen in the video were found on top of the grave, along with a sign reading: "The people they killed are buried here."

Police had not confirmed the identities of the bodies dumped on top of the grave.

In the video, the two men say they killed the "Michoacanos" in an act of revenge against La Familia, a drug cartel based in Michoacan.

The families of the 20 missing men have publicly said they were mechanics in the state capital of Morelia who saved up money to take a vacation together.

Guerrero state investigators say they corroborated the men worked as mechanics and had no criminal records. Investigators also say they could find no evidence linking the men to any gang and have speculated the group may have been targeted by mistake.

The kidnapping was one of the biggest blows yet to Acapulco, which has seen an increase in drug-gang shootouts, beheadings and kidnappings. Even Acapulco Mayor Jose Luis Avila Sanchez recently urged residents to stay indoors after nightfall, an extraordinary pronouncement in a city that depends on nightclubs, bars and restaurants.

Cartels on YouTube
If the video's claim is confirmed, it would be a chilling example of a growing trend that has added a new dimension of terror to Mexico's bloody drug war: cartels releasing footage of kidnapped people admitting at gunpoint to crimes from extortion to murder. It is often impossible to determine the veracity of confessions given under duress.

In the boldest case, a video emerged less than two weeks ago showing the kidnapped brother of Patricia Gonzalez, the former attorney general of northern Chihuahua state. In the video, the brother, Mario Gonzalez, says his sister protected a street gang tied to the Juarez cartel and was behind several murders.

Gonzalez, who had been kidnapped days earlier, made the statement while sitting handcuffed in a chair surrounded by five masked men pointing guns at him. His whereabouts remain unknown.

Patricia Gonzalez denied any links to drug traffickers and said she is sure her brother spoke out of fear.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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