U.S. Consulate kids: Gunbattle in Mexico stirs fear

Posted: August 25, 2010 in Uncategorized

MEXICO CITY – The U.S. State Department is urging its employees to keep their children home from a school in the northern city of Monterrey after a deadly shootout erupted nearby.

The Friday shootout near the American School Foundation of Monterrey, which is popular with U.S. expatriates, is the latest in a wave of attacks blamed on drug gangs in Monterrey, one of Mexico’s wealthiest cities.

Two security guards at the offices of a Mexican bottling company were killed in the shooting. Four other security guards were kidnapped by apparent drug smugglers but later released.

U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual urged consulate staff members to keep their children home while U.S. officials study the security situation around the school, the consulate in Monterrey said in a written statement this week.

The consulate warned Americans to remain alert, saying the shootout and a sharp rise in kidnappings in Monterrey “present a very high risk to the families of U.S. citizens who might become incidental victims.”

Officials at the school declined to comment Tuesday.

The U.S. Embassy said that there was no firm timeline for the security review and that the decision to send children to school would rest with parents.

The American School has about 600 students from kindergarten through 12th grade, 90 percent of them Mexican, according to the school’s website. Classes began Aug. 18.

Friday’s shootout appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, Alejandro Garza, attorney general of Nuevo Leon state, told reporters Monday.

Two security guards were patrolling in a vehicle outside the offices of bottling company Fomento Economico Mexicano SA, better known as FEMSA, when they came across two sport-utility vehicles driven by apparent drug-cartel hit men.

The cartel members apparently mistook the guards for members of a rival cartel and held them at gunpoint. When other guards came to help, the drug smugglers opened fire, Garza said.

Drug violence has worsened recently around Monterrey as the Gulf cartel and their former allies, the Zetas, battle police and each other for control of smuggling routes.

Gunmen have started blocking Monterrey’s streets with stolen semitrucks to slow down police as they carry out attacks on rival gangs.

On Aug. 15, the Televisa television station in Monterrey was attacked with grenades.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/2010/08/25/20100825us-consulate-kids-school-shootings.html#ixzz0xcrd8SSl

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