- Associated Press - Friday, September 10, 2010

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — Gunmen killed 25 people in a series of drug-gang attacks in Ciudad Juarez, marking the deadliest day in more than two years for the Mexican border city. And farther east on the border, 85 inmates scaled the walls of a prison and escaped Friday.

Despite the violence, President Felipe Calderon hotly disputed a statement this week by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying Mexico resembled Colombia two decades ago.

“These kind of comments like the ones made by Secretary of State Clinton … so careless, so lacking in seriousness, are very painful for Mexico, because they damage Mexico’s image terribly,” Calderon told the Spanish-language network Univision.

“I think the main thing we have in common with Colombia is that both of our countries suffer from U.S. drug consumption,” Calderon said. “We are both victims of the enormous American consumption of drugs, and now the sales of weapons.”

The toll in Thursday’s attacks in Ciudad Juarez included 15 people killed when attackers stormed four homes in three hours, said Arturo Sandoval, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office of Chihuahua state, where Ciudad Juarez is located.

In the worst of those attacks, gunmen burst into a house and killed two young men — then killed four others for being witnesses.

Sandoval said it was the highest single-day murder toll in the city across from El Paso, Texas, since March 2008. He did not give more details of how many died back then, or say what day.

Two graffiti message appeared in Ciudad Juarez threatening Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the fugitive head of the Sinaloa drug cartel.

“You are killing our sons. You already did, and now we are going to kill your families,” one sign read.

In the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, 85 inmates — 66 of whom were convicted or on trial for federal charges like weapons possession or drugs — scaled the Reynosa prison’s 20-foot (6-meter) walls using ladders, said the Tamaulipas state public safety secretary, Jose Garza Garcia.

Garza Garcia said 44 prison guards and employees were under investigation. Two were missing.

“The guards evidently helped in the escape,” he said. So far this year a total of 201 inmates have escaped from prisons in Tamaulipas.

Ciudad Juarez, with a population of 1.3 million, has become one of the world’s most dangerous cities amid a turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels.

Violence has continued unabated despite the deployment of thousands of soldiers to the city this year. Federal police, including a special investigative unit, later took over security in the city as part of a new strategy announced by President Felipe Calderon.

More than 2,100 people have been killed this year in Ciudad Juarez, putting the city on pace to surpass its previous high of 2,700, set last year.

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