US Consulate Juarez shootings
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Update: US Consulate Juarez shootings

State-Department-seal  The New York Times has posted a detailed and chilling account about the shootings. It appears that the embassy employees were deliberately targeted, stalked and gunned down in front of their children, though this is partially contradicted by a separate article in The Washington Post. Foreign Service families at all US-Mexican border posts (Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juárez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros) have been authorized to evacuate (voluntary evacuation) back to the United States for up to 30 days.

President Obama expressed outrage at the “brutal murders” and in a statement from the White House vowed to “work tirelessly” with Mexican law enforcement officials to bring the killers to justice.

My thoughts are with the victims' families and my colleagues at US Consulate Juarez.

The Department of State has just issued a very strongly-worded Travel Warning about the escalating violence along the border.

U.S. Consular Aide and Husband Killed in Mexico


The New York Times

TRONCONES, Mexico — Gunmen believed to be drug traffickers shot an American consulate worker and her husband to death over the weekend in the violence-racked border town of Ciudad Juárez, and killed the husband of another consular employee and wounded his two young children, the authorities said Sunday.

President Obama expressed outrage at the “brutal murders” and in a statement from the White House vowed to “work tirelessly” with Mexican law enforcement officials to bring the killers to justice.

It was not the first attack against American interests in Mexico by traffickers. Unknown attackers shot at and hurled a grenade that never exploded at the American consulate in Monterrey in 2008. But the killings in Ciudad Juárez on Saturday afternoon of two American citizens and a Mexican national married to an American government employee appeared to take the violence to a new, brutal level.

President Obama was quick to laud the anti-drug war launched by his Mexico counterpart, Felipe Calderón, who had scheduled a visit to Ciudad Juárez for Tuesday to address the spiraling violence there. Mr. Calderón also issued a statement on Sunday condemning the killings and promising to “dedicate all available resources” to improve security in the city.

The Ciudad Juárez shootings took place within minutes of each other about 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. The victims had left a social gathering at another consulate worker’s home when they were attacked, officials said.

The first attack was reported at 2:32 p.m.

Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros, 37, the husband of a consulate worker, was found dead in a white Honda Pilot, with bullet wounds to his body. In the back seat, were two injured children, one aged four and one seven. They were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Numerous bullet casings of various calibers were recovered from the scene.

Another call came in exactly 10 minutes later, several miles away.

This time it was a Toyota RAV 4 with Texas plates that had been shot up, with two dead adults inside and a baby crying from a car seat in the back, the authorities said.

A relative identified the dead couple to The Associated Press as Lesley A. Enriquez, 25, a consulate employee, and her husband, Arthur H. Redelf, 30, from across the border in El Paso, Texas.

Ms. Enriquez, an American citizen, was shot in the head. She was wearing a green sweater, brown pants and black sandals, according to a police report.

Her husband, seated next to her, was shot in neck and left arm. He was wearing a blue polo shirt, blue pants and grey sneakers, the report said.

A 9 mm bullet casing was found at the scene.

Alarmed by the brazen shootings, the State Department told employees at a string of American consulates along the Mexican border — Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juárez, Nuevo Laredo, Monterrey and Matamoros — that they could evacuate their families to the United States until April 12.

Strengthening its travel warning for Mexico, the State Department said: “Criminals are armed with a wide array of sophisticated weapons. In some cases, assailants have worn full or partial police or military uniforms and have used vehicles that resemble police vehicles. While most crime victims are Mexican citizens, the uncertain security situation poses serious risks for U.S. citizens as well.”

Although President Calderón has maintained that the government has control over the entire country, the State Department’s warning suggests otherwise. Because of a surge in assaults, murders and kidnappings, the American Embassy restricts diplomats from traveling anywhere in the state of Durango, south of highways 25 and 22 and the Alamos River in the state of Coahuila, and in the northwest part of the state of Chihuahua and southeast of Ciudad Juárez.

American citizens are becoming more frequent victims of the violence. In late 2009 and early 2010, four Americans visiting Durango were killed in cases that like most in Mexico remain unsolved.

“The President is deeply saddened and outraged by the news of the brutal murders of three people associated with the United States Consulate General in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, including a U.S. citizen employee, her U.S. citizen husband, and the husband of a Mexican citizen employee,” Mike Hammer, a White House spokesman, said in a statement. “He extends his condolences to the families and condemns these attacks on consular and diplomatic personnel serving at our foreign missions. In concert with Mexican authorities, we will work tirelessly to bring their killers to justice.”

Ginger Thompson and Helene Cooper contributed reporting from Washington, and Antonio Betancourt from Mexico City.