Drug hitmen kill 11 in Mexican bar


Hooded gunmen believed engaged in a drugs feud burst into a bar in northern Mexico and shot dead 11 people in the third drugs-related massacre in the state since July, officials said today.

The black-clad gunmen opened fire with assault rifles at the Rio Rosas bar in Chihuahua city near Texas last night after pushing their way in and identifying themselves as federal police, the Chihuahua attorney general's office said.

The killings were believed related to a feud between gangs jockeying over drug smuggling routes into the United States.

Customers stampeded out of the bar as the gunmen fled the usually quiet city neighborhood. One of the victims was a columnist for the city's main daily newspaper.

A few hours later, federal police fought a group of suspected hitmen in a gun battle on the highway south from Ciudad Juarez, which is on the US border, to Chihuahua.

Police declined to say if the battle, in which two policemen and two gunmen died, involved the men who attacked the bar.

More than 3,000 people have died this year as Mexico's drug gangs fight for control of smuggling routes into California, Arizona and Texas, despite deployment of thousands of troops and federal police across Mexico by president Felipe Calderon.