By Edwin Chen and Carlos Manuel Rodriguez
March 15 (Bloomberg) -- The State Department authorized the departure from Mexico of dependents of U.S. consulate personnel in cities along the U.S.-Mexico border after three people connected with the American consulate in Ciudad Juarez were killed in drive-by shootings.
The White House condemned the killings of a U.S. citizen employee, her husband and the husband of a Mexican citizen employee, in a statement yesterday from National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer.
The drive-by shooting took place March 13, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The official declined to provide more detail, citing privacy concerns. Ciudad Juarez is across the border from El Paso, Texas.
A general travel warning to all U.S. citizens was issued as the State Department authorized dependents to leave the cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterey and Matamoros until at least April 12.
“Violence in the country has increased,” said a posting on the State Department Web site. “It is imperative that U.S. citizens understand the risks in Mexico, how best to avoid dangerous situations, and who to contact if victimized.”
Twenty-eight people were killed, including four who were decapitated, in the southern state of Guerrero on March 13 amid a “drug war between criminal organizations,” El Universal reported, citing the state’s secretary for security, Heriberto Salinas. Five police officers and one soldier were among those killed in Guerrero, and 14 more people were killed there yesterday, the Mexico City-based newspaper said.
“The president shares in the outrage of the Mexican people at the murders of thousands in Ciudad Juarez and elsewhere in Mexico,” the White House statement said. “We will continue to work with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and his government to break the power of the drug trafficking organizations that operate in Mexico and far too often target and kill the innocent.”
Calderon also condemned the Ciudad Juarez murders saying he was “outraged” by the crimes. The Mexican government “will continue to dedicate all the resources available to fortify the public safety conditions of Ciudad Juarez and all the domestic territory,” the president’s statement said.
Mexican law enforcement agencies “will work closely with their United States counterparts to track down those responsible,” said Ricardo Alday, spokesman for the Mexican embassy in the U.S. “The principle of shared responsibility underscores the need for both our countries to keep working as full partners to guarantee the safety and security of our peoples,” Alday said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
On Jan. 30, 15 people, mostly students attending a party in Ciudad Juarez, were killed by masked gunmen.
Calderon, who has used the military to crack down on drug gangs since taking office in December 2006, said last month that the drug violence in his country reflects demand for narcotics in the neighboring U.S. and easy access to weapons.
An Attorney General’s spokeswoman who wouldn’t be identified because of Mexican government policy said that the Juarez shooting was under investigation without giving further details. Calls to the Ciudad Juarez police department seeking comment were not answered. Calls and e-mail messages to Mexico’s press office of the president were not responded to immediately.
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