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U.S., Mexico Vow Action On Slain Americans

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

I'm Melissa Block.

And we begin this hour in Mexico where that country's brutal drug war took another tragic turn this weekend. A pregnant American woman who worked at the U.S. consulate in the border town of Juarez was shot to death in her car. Her husband was also killed.

An attack on U.S. government officials in Mexico is extremely rare. And both President Obama and his Mexican counterpart pledged to work together to track down the killers in that attack and a second killing the same day. We have two reports on the violence along the border. We begin with Monica Ortiz Uribe with the latest on the investigation in Juarez.

MONICA ORTIZ URIBE: It was another bloody weekend in Mexico, with some 50 people killed in violence. Many of the deaths are apparently related to ongoing battles by drug mafias. But a pair of shootings are getting all the attention. Three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Juarez, including consular worker Lesley Enriquez, were shot dead in almost simultaneous attacks.

The killings prompted an immediate response from the Obama administration. Both the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration have officers working on the case in Juarez. Andrea Simmons is a spokeswoman for the FBI office in El Paso, just across the border from Juarez.

Ms. ANDREA SIMMONS (Spokeswoman, FBI): We have agents who've flown in from Mexico City who have been over there the last few days assisting. DEA and some other agencies have agents who are already in Juarez as part of their normal operations, who are assisting. The El Paso office has agents who have gone over to assist.

URIBE: Private U.S. citizens have occasionally been caught up in the violence in Mexico but this is the first attack in the past two years directed at U.S. government officials. David Shirk is a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. He studies Mexico and says this is yet another low point in that country's drug war.

Mr. DAVID SHIRK (Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Center): This is the most blatant and brutal attack on a U.S. diplomatic entity since the 1980s.

URIBE: In Saturday's shooting, Enriquez, who is pregnant, was shot and killed along with her husband, Arthur Redelfs. Both were U.S. citizens. They were driving in their car when they were shot. Their baby daughter, strapped in the back seat of their car, was unharmed.

The second attack occurred at almost the same time a few miles away in a residential area. There, 37-year-old Jorge Alberto Salcido Ceniceros was killed. With him were two children, ages four and seven, who were injured and taken to the hospital. Salcido Ceniceros was the husband of another U.S. consulate worker who was a Mexican citizen.

All the victims are believed to have been coming from the social event in Juarez. In El Paso, city councilman Beto O'Rourke has helped author and pass two city resolutions asking for more U.S. assistance in Mexico's drug war.

Mr. BETO O'ROURKE (City Councilman, El Paso): I don't think the government on either side, Calderon's government or Obama's government, has done enough to this point to solve the underlying issues. I hope that as unfortunate as this recent tragedy is, that it's a call to action for the U.S. government at least to change or rethink their policy when it comes to Mexico and this drug war.

URIBE: He says the U.S. should do more to support the economy and social services in Mexico. The Bush administration and now the Obama administration have promised large amounts of aid to Mexico for its drug war. Most of that assistance is intended for equipment like helicopters and weapons. Even before the shootings this weekend, the State Department said U.S. consulate workers in Juarez and other diplomatic missions along the borders could send their families home to the United States due to the increasing violence.

For NPR News, I'm Monica Ortiz Uribe in El Paso. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Fronteras Senior Field Correspondent Mónica Ortiz Uribe (KRWG, Las Cruces) is a native of El Paso, Texas, where she worked as a freelance reporter prior to joining the Fronteras team. She also anchors segments on KRWG-TV's Fronteras program.