August 18, 2008 / 6:08 PM / 10 years ago

Hit men kill 13 at party in Mexico tourist town

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico, Aug 18 (Reuters) - Suspected drug hit men opened fire on a family gathering at a tourist town in northern Mexico killing 13 people including a baby.

The masked hit men sprayed the party with bullets on Saturday as they drove past the dance hall where the family was gathered outside in Creel, Chihuahua state, near the U.S. border.

The shower of bullets killed a 1-year-old in the arms of an adult, as well as three teen-agers and a university professor, said a spokesman for the Chihuahua attorney general’s office on Monday.

"They can kill each other, but to shoot dead innocent people, young students, professors ... it is not possible," a weeping 60-year-old resident told local Chihuahua daily El Diario after the attack.

The shooting was believed to be part of a drug gang feud and the government sent 160 federal police and soldiers to Creel following the attack.

Creel in the remote and snowy Sierra Tarahumara mountains is a key narcotics smuggling point en route to Mexico’s border with the United States.

It is also the town where tourists start a train journey through Mexico’s spectacular Copper Canyon that is home to the Tarahumara Indians.

More than 2,000 people have died this year in Mexico’s drug war, mostly between rival gangs, in a fight for control of smuggling corridors into the United States.

The shooting follows a deadly attack by hit men on a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Chihuahua’s border city of Ciudad Juarez last week, when hooded gunmen killed eight patients during a prayer session.

Mexico’s most-wanted man, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman, is fighting local drug baron Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, boss of the Juarez cartel, for control of Chihuahua state and its lucrative smuggling corridor into the United States. (Reporting by Ignacio Alvarado; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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