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Deaths in Mexico bar shootout

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Fifteen people have been killed and at least one seriously wounded in a suspected drug-related shootout in a bar in northern Mexico, a region that has been brutalised by fighting between criminal gangs.

The local attorney general's office said in a statement on Saturday that armed men entered the bar in Chihuahua, capital of Chihuaha state, and opened fire on a group of people inside suspected of involvement in drug dealing.

The deceased included two journalists, the office said. 

"They have been identified as Hector Javier Salinas Aguirre and Javier Moya Munoz, who were journalists from the city of Chihuahua with many years working at radio stations," a source from the Chihuahua state attorney's office told AFP news agency. 

Drug cartel war

Witnesses said that in the attack on Friday night about seven heavily armed men burst into a bar called La Colorada and demanded to know the whereabouts of two or three other men.

After getting no response, they opened fire indiscriminately, police said. 

Chihuahua state attorney's office also said that two other people died in a separate bar attack in the city, bringing the death toll for Friday night to 17. 

The massacres follow a similar shooting February 4, when an armed group burst into another Chihuahua bar and opened fire, killing nine people.

They included five members of a band and a policewoman.

Authorities have not yet established a motive for the attack on Friday night.

Since 2008, Chihuahua, and in particular the city of Ciudad Juarez on the border with Texas, has been the area worst hit by turf wars between drug cartels following the crackdown on gangs Felipe Calderon, the Mexican president, launched soon after taking office in December 2006.

The gang violence and clashes with security forces have killed more than 50,000 people in Mexico in the past five years.

However, the number of murders had eased somewhat in Chihuahua over the past year, with some counts suggesting the border state of Nuevo Leon had suffered more violence in the first months of 2012.


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