Soldiers beheaded in Mexico, drug war suspected

October 21st, 2008 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

Monterrey (Mexico), Oct 21 (IANS) At least 11 soldiers have been killed - six of them beheaded - in northern Mexico over the past five days, EFE news agency reported Tuesday, quoting authorities, who suspect the killings were linked to the country’s drug war.Police have found bodies of three people who seem to be military personnel with their heads severed, from a ranch in Monterrey, the capital of Nuevo Leon, Sunday night, provincial police officer Rodrigo Medina said.

The wave of killings began last Wednesday, when three soldiers were stabbed to death inside a Monterrey bar.

An army veteran met the same fate last Thursday, the same day troops operating in Nuevo Leon seized nine tonnes of marijuana and an arsenal of guns and ammunition in the course of five separate battles with drug-cartel gunmen.

On Friday, four soldiers were found beheaded, two of them in a spot near one of the previous day’s clashes between the army and cartel-hired gunmen.

Nuevo Leon, which borders Texas, has logged nearly 150 killings in recent months as rival drug traffickers vie to control smuggling routes and local retail sales of pot, cocaine and other drugs.

The US Consulate in Monterrey suspended operations last Thursday after unknown assailants shot out some windows and hurled a grenade that failed to detonate.

Separately, a Mexican Federal Police officer was gunned down early Monday in Ensenada, a city about 116 km south of Tijuana in the northwestern state of Baja California, authorities said.

His death followed the murders of 10 people, including two other police officers, in Baja California in a 24-hour period last weekend.

The two police officers were killed in a hail of gunfire in Playas de Rosarito, which is near Tijuana, while the other bodies were found in and around the border city.

Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence, with powerful cartels battling each other and the security forces.

Armed groups linked to the cartels murdered around 2,700 people in 2007, and the death toll this year has already touched 4,000, according to unofficial press tallies.

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