Senior Mexican official killed in drug-cartel stronghold

Jose Manuel Revuelta was gunned down in public Thursday in the state of Michoacan, while 17 others died in another apparently drug-related attack in Ciudad Juarez.

Mexico’s effort to crack down on rampant drug cartels suffered a blow Thursday, as the second-highest security official in the state of Michoacan, an epicenter of violence, was gunned down along with three others in public in the state capital.

Adding to the brazenness of the attack, Jose Manuel Revuelta was killed in the home state of President Felipe Calderon, who since 2006 has launched a military-style campaign against drug cartel.

The killing highlighted a surge in drug cartels’ efforts to strike back at the government. It came on the same day that gunmen broke into a rehab center in Ciudad Juarez, another area of violence, and killed 18 people in what appears to be a drug-related slaying.

The BBC reports that:

[Revuelta] was killed by heavily armed men in two cars who intercepted the vehicle he was driving. His two bodyguards and a bystander were also killed.
Mr Revuelta, 38, was killed blocks away from police headquarters in the state capital Morelia.

The Associated Press notes the significance of Mr. Revuelta's death:

Jose Manuel Revuelta, who was promoted less than two weeks ago to state deputy public safety director, is the highest-ranking government official killed in the wave of assassinations sweeping Michoacan, the cradle of La Familia drug cartel.

Meanwhile, the attack in Cuidad Juarez underscores the dismal security situation, as Sky News reports:

[G]unmen burst into the clinic in Ciudad Juarez near the US border and forced patients to line up in a corridor before killing them, the Mexican army said.

"Armed men shot at about 20 people, killing 17 of them and injuring three," said army spokesman Enrique Torres.
Drug gangs have targeted rehab clinics in the city before, accusing the centers of protecting dealers from rival gangs.
In a similar attack last year, eight people were killed at a rehab clinic for drug addicts….
The shooting happened despite the presence of 10,000 troops and federal police, who constantly patrol the streets of the city.

Cuidad Juarez is now more dangerous than Baghdad, according to a nonprofit group that tracks security. The Dallas Morning News describes:

August killings shattered July's record of 267, according to a count by the city's daily newspapers....
With 130 killings for every 100,000 residents last year, the city of 1.6 million people accounts for nearly half the killings in Mexico.

Despite the violence, President Calderon remains popular, the Christian Science Monitor reports:

In a poll published in the daily newspaper Reforma, 68 percent of those surveyed approve of their president's leadership…
That is in part because many of the nation's gravest issues are seen as outside of his control. "He has been able to exonerate himself from the crisis," says Jorge Buendia, a pollster in Mexico City.
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