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Suspected drug hitmen kill 17 at party in Mexico

Suspected drug hitmen stormed a private party and killed 17 people including five women in the northern Mexican city of Torreon Sunday, one of the deadliest attacks in Mexico's war on traffickers, police said.
/ Source: Reuters

Suspected drug hitmen stormed a private party and killed 17 people in the northern Mexican city of Torreon Sunday in one of the deadliest attacks in Mexico's drug war, police said.

Gunmen in five SUVs drove up to the party in a walled patio and garden on the outskirts of the city in Coahuila state across from Texas, smashed down the door and opened fire on party-goers at about 1 a.m, Coahuila's prosecutor's office said.

"They came in, opened fire and shot against everything that moved," said an official at the prosecutor's office who declined to be identified.

Photos showed blood-stained floor tiles, overturned chairs and musical instruments by a beer tent abandoned as people fled.

The prosecutor's office said in a statement 18 people were injured in the attack and taken to hospitals. The party garden was strewn with more than 100 bullet casings. The assailants escaped after the attack and no arrests have been made, the statement said.

The early morning attack comes days after a drug gang detonated a car bomb in Ciudad Juarez late Thursday, killing four people in the first attack of its kind in Mexico's drug war.

Ciudad Juarez's main daily El Diario reported Sunday that agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were in the city to investigate the car bomb attack. U.S and Mexican officials declined to comment.

Federal police blamed La Linea, the armed wing of the powerful Juarez cartel, for the car bomb and Mexico's security ministry said it was retaliation for the arrest this week of a cartel member.

In Torreon, it was not immediately clear who was responsible for the attack but the area, a key transit point along smuggling routes into the United States, is being fought over by the Sinaloa cartel led by Mexico's most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, and the Zetas gang from northeastern Mexico.

More than 26,000 people have been killed in drug violence across Mexico since President Felipe Calderon took office and started a crackdown on drug cartels in 2006. Escalating violence is worrying Washington and investors in the oil-producing country once known for its political stability next door to the United States.