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Mexico's drug war: Cartel kills 12 federal officers

The torture and killings could foreshadow a new surge in battles between authorities and drug cartels in the Mexican president's home state of Michoacán.

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In the worst single execution-style slaying of federal forces in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón took office, the bodies of 12 officers were found alongside a road in the state of Michoacán, Mexican authorities confirmed Tuesday. The corpses showed signs of torture.

The news came as an armed gang shot dead a mayor near the US border, capping a vicious 48-hour period that has seen 30 people killed.

Since President Calderón launched a military offensive against organized crime in December 2006, hundreds of police and military officers have been killed. The Calderón administration has shown no signs of backing away from confronting the drug cartels. But the torture and killing of these officers could foreshadow a new surge in battles in the state of Michoacán.

Mexican authorities say the attack was part of a continued retaliation by La Familia, a cartel based in Michoacán that has grown in force in the past few years. Over the weekend, after one of La Familia's alleged leaders was arrested by federal authorities, the cartel coordinated shootouts against federal officers in at least six cities across the state.

"This is the cartel that attacks the authorities with the most belligerence," Monte Alejandro Rubido, a national security spokesman, said Tuesday at a press conference. "We shouldn't be surprised at this kind of reaction."

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