Mexican Gunmen stop Ambulance, Kill Paient Inside

Gunmen tossed a grenade at an ambulance
and then opened its doors to kill a patient inside who had narrowly
survived an earlier shooting in a drug cartel-plagued Mexican state
Friday. Paramedics ran for their lives during the attack.

Vehicles carrying four masked gunmen cut off the ambulance
around 2 a.m. as it carried the 23-year-old man to a hospital in
Morelia, the capital on Michoacan state, according to a report from
the state prosecutor's office.

Assailants tossed a fragmentation grenade at the ambulance,
setting it on fire, and the two paramedics ran away, according to
the police report. The gunmen then opened the back doors and fired
at the patient and his wife, who was accompanying him.

The man died and the 20-year-old woman was listed in serious
condition. No arrests have been made.

The state prosecutor's office said the victim had been taken to
a local hospital by his family Sunday night after being wounded in
a shootout between rival gangs in Uruapan, a center of Mexico's
avocado industry. He was being transferred early Friday to a
better-equipped hospital in the state capital.

Another man wounded in the attack remains hospitalized and is
being guarded by city police, officials said.

Uruapan, a city of some 240,000 people, has been hard hit by
drug violence that has killed more than 10,800 people nationwide
since 2006. The mayor is among seven detained mayors charged
Thursday with protecting members of La Familia drug cartel.
Assailants in 2006 entered an Uruapan bar and dumped five human
heads on a dance floor.

President Felipe Calderon has sent thousands of soldiers to
Michoacan since taking office in 2006. Since then, gangs under
pressure have unleashed unprecedented killings, attacking police,
soldiers and rival smugglers.

Also Friday, authorities in the border city of Ciudad Juarez
said they would step up patrols after killings there rebounded to
levels near those that led the government to send in 5,000 army
troops in March.

The killings in Ciudad Juarez - most of which are believed to be
drug-related - had declined to about one per day after the army
sent troops there in March to patrol the streets.

But the state Attorney General's office said killings have risen
again to an average of between eight and nine per day. Through
mid-June, there have been 800 killings in the border city across
from El Paso, Texas, a level similar to the approximately 1,600
deaths in 2008.

Late Wednesday, four teenagers were shot to death on a Ciudad
Juarez street by gunmen wielding assault rifles. The four were
between the ages of 16 and 18.

Chihuahua state Public Safety Secretary Victor Valencia said
that local, state and federal forces had decided to step up patrols
in the most dangerous parts of the city, and increase checks of
suspicious vehicles.

Local police have been working alongside the army troops, who
are scheduled to begin withdrawing later this year.


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