Eight dead, human remains found in northern Mexico

MEXICO CITY Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:43pm EST

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican authorities discovered the bodies of eight men and the remains of others in the northern state of Chihuahua over the weekend, the local government said on Sunday.

The eight victims, who were aged 30-35, were found by a road roughly 50 miles south of the city of Chihuahua. The victims had been tortured and shot in the head, a spokesman for the state government said.

State prosecutors also found a grave containing the remains of men who died roughly two years ago in the desert area just south of the city of Ciudad Juarez, near the U.S. border.

Bones and clothing of the victims were discovered during a search of the area conducted on Friday and Saturday, according to a government statement. Authorities will work on determining the number of dead, cause and time of death, and identities of the victims, the statement said.

Chihuahua has been one of the Mexican states hardest hit by violence stemming from turf wars between drug cartels and their clashes with security forces.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who steps down at the end of the month, launched a six-year offensive against the cartels that led to a spike in violent crime. About 60,000 people have died in drug-related violence during his term.

President-elect Enrique Pena Nieto, who takes office on December 1, says his priority will be to reduce violence and focus first on tackling crimes like extortion and kidnapping.

(Reporting by Alexandra Alper and Dave Graham, editing by Stacey Joyce)

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