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Mexico's deadly drug violence claims hundreds of lives in past 5 days

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President Felipe Calderon is asking Mexicans to support his war on drug trafficking. The broadcast appeal Tuesday came after soldiers killed 15 gunmen in a shootout in Taxco, and on a day the government restricted money exchange.

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One of the teenagers managed to make a cellphone call to his home, shouting: -- "Mommy, they've come to kill us!"

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Violence against addicts at rehab centers, where patients are often low-level workers in the drug trade, is increasingly common in Mexico.

Calderón later issued a statement from Johannesburg, where he was attending the opening of the World Cup, decrying "the barbaric acts."

On Monday, gunmen killed 15 federal police officers in separate attacks in two states known for heavy narcotics trafficking. In the mountainous state of Michoacan, west of Mexico City, mafia assassins used burning buses to block a major highway and ambush a convoy of police returning to the capital, killing 12 officers and wounding at least eight others.

Also Monday, 29 prisoners from rival gangs attacked one another with pistols, an assault rifle and knives in the Mazatlan jail in the western state of Sinaloa, home to Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán. The billionaire cartel boss, whom Forbes magazine has named one of the richest men in Mexico, is among the most wanted fugitives there and in the United States.

Prison officials said that 18 inmates were killed in initial assaults and that 11 others died of stab wounds and beatings when fighting spread to other cell blocks.

In Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, seven or eight people are killed in drug-related violence every day, often garnering only a few paragraphs in the local newspapers. Almost 1,200 people have died in Juarez this year.


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