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MEXICO UNDER SIEGE

Ciudad Juarez police baffled by shooting of teens

The attack on a party attended by mostly high school and college students has 'no apparent motive,' the mayor says. The death toll rises to 16.

February 01, 2010|By Ken Ellingwood

Reporting from Mexico City — Authorities in Ciudad Juarez said Monday that they have no idea what motivated a weekend shooting attack against a group of young partygoers that killed at least 16 people in the border city.

The death toll rose from 14 after two more victims died Monday from wounds suffered during the assault, in which gunmen in seven vehicles sealed off the street and opened fire on a party packed with teenagers. More than a dozen people were wounded during the attack around midnight Saturday.

The majority of the dead were under 20, and most were high school or college students.

Ciudad Juarez has witnessed spectacular violence for the last two years because of a ferocious war between a pair of drug trafficking groups that has killed more than 3,700 people. Many of the killings have been gangland-style, with bodies lined up in rows or left headless in public places, and few of the cases have been solved.

Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz said Monday that authorities had found no evidence to suggest that any of the young victims were connected in some way to criminal activity. Authorities have offered a reward of 1 million pesos, about $78,000, for information leading to the capture of the killers.

"The violence has always been between the criminal groups, [but] in this case in particular -- good kids, students, athletes -- there is no apparent motive for these deeds, and that is what concerns Juarez residents most today," Reyes said during a radio interview. "This case is very difficult for us."

The father of one victim wept during a radio interview as he called upon his government to stop the killing that has shown no signs of abating in Juarez.

"It's not fair, President Calderon. Hear these cries. They're not from families that have problems with drugs, it's from a father whose heart has been torn out, whose son has been taken away this way," said Adrian Cadena, whose son Rodrigo was killed.

ken.ellingwood @latimes.com

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