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Narco Blog: Cartels Continue Attacks on Ambulances Carrying Wounded Foes

Narco Blog: Cartels Continue Attacks on Ambulances Carrying Wounded Foes

Photo: Ambulance Attacked by Cartel

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A group of gunmen attacked an ambulance in this northern Mexican border city, killing two paramedics and two male patients and wounding a female patient, authorities said.

The victims were traveling from the city of Nuevo Casas Grandes to Ciudad Juarez - a distance of 277 kilometers (170 miles) - when an SUV collided with the ambulance and forced it to stop, Juarez municipal police spokespersons told Efe.

At the time of Wednesday’s attack, the patients were being transferred from an IMSS insurance and social services agency hospital to a clinic in Ciudad Juarez for treatment for kidney failure.

Two paramedics, one of whom was driving the ambulance, and two male patients were killed in the attack, while a woman who also was receiving medical treatment was wounded.

Arturo Sandoval, spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office in Chihuahua state, where Juarez is located, said several men stepped out of the SUV and fired indiscriminately at the ambulance before fleeing in two other vehicles.

Ciudad Juarez’s paramedics, many of whom are volunteers, frequently receive death threats from drug traffickers who prohibit them from transporting wounded individuals to hospitals in the neighboring city of El Paso, Texas.

The threats are sometimes made over the paramedics’ radio frequencies.

Several patients receiving emergency care at hospitals in Ciudad Juarez also have been gunned down inside those medical facilities.

On Oct. 11, for example, a group of gunmen burst into the emergency wing of a hospital in Juarez and killed three men who had been admitted for gunshot wounds.

Elsewhere, a group of suspected cartel hit men shot and killed three men in Saltillo, capital of the northern state of Coahuila, while five decaying bodies were found in the northeastern state of Nuevo Leon, officials said Wednesday.

The Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said that, according to witness reports, the victims in Saltillo were attacked outside a house in the Fundadores neighborhood by a group of unknown assailants riding in a moving vehicle.

The three victims, all men between the ages of 20 and 30, have not been identified, the AG’s office said.

Authorities found 50 shell casings from .223-caliber and 7.62mm-caliber automatic rifles at the scene, according to the official report.

Separately, Mexican soldiers found five decaying bodies in the rural municipality of Cerralvo, located roughly 100 kilometers (60 miles) west of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon’s capital.

Spokespersons for the Nuevo Leon state Attorney General’s Office said the bodies were found on a country road where soldiers in recent days had discovered a “drug camp.”

Chihuahua, Coahuila and Nuevo Leon have been three of the Mexican states hardest hit by drug-related violence in recent years.

Nearly 50,000 people have died in the mayhem since President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the nation’s heavily armed, well-funded cartels shortly after taking office five years ago.

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