Latin America & Caribbean

Deadly Mexican drug gang attack 'was car bomb'

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEmergency services attend the aftermath of the attack

Investigators in Mexico say a deadly attack by suspected drug cartel members in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez was a car bomb set off by mobile phone.

It is believed to be the first attack of its kind since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, promising to curb powerful drugs gangs.

Two police officers and two medics answering an emergency were killed.

Police said the attack was retaliation for the arrest of a leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero.

La Linea is part of the Juarez drug cartel.

"There were 10kg (22lb) of explosives, activated from a distance by a cellphone," Enrique Torres, a spokesman for the army in Ciudad Juarez, said.

At least 16 other people were injured in Thursday's attack, police said.

Ciudad Juarez is just across the border from El Paso, Texas. It has long been the battleground for cartels fighting for control of lucrative drug smuggling routes into the US.

More than 7,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico so far this year. Almost 25,000 have died in the past three and a half years, according to figures released by the office of Attorney General Arturo Chavez on Friday.

Mr Chavez said the rising figures demonstrated that the cartels were under pressure from the government crackdown.

He said 75,000 weapons had been decommissioned in the same period and 78,000 people had been detained in drug trafficking operations.

President Calderon has despatched thousands of troops to regain control of areas of the country long dominated by powerful cartels.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionEmergency services attend the aftermath of the attack