First car bomb hits police in Mexican murder capital

Ciudad Juarez, Mexico (ANTARA News/AFP) - Suspected drug gang members who attacked a police convoy this week used a mobile phone-triggered car bomb packed with C4 explosives, the army said Friday, confirming the first such strike in Ciudad Juarez.

The attack left four people dead: two policemen, a paramedic and a doctor, according to General Eduardo Zarate, commander of the Fifth Military Zone.

Zarate confirmed Thursday`s attack was the first car bombing in Ciudad Juarez, known as Mexico`s murder capital for the deadly rivalry between the Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels. It sits across El Paso, Texas, and is a major drug-trafficking crossroads.

"Residue from 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of an explosive known as C4 and the remnants of a mobile telephone device were found," he told reporters.

The general also said it was the first car bombing in Mexico directed at the police force.

Despite the high-profile bombing, Attorney General Arturo Chavez insisted Mexico`s drug cartels were not involved in terrorism.

"We don`t have any evidence in the country of narcoterrorism as it has occurred in other countries," he told reporters, adding that the objective of the car bombing was "not to destabilize the state but to frighten society."

Zarate said police were investigating how the explosive-packed car was able to ram a convoy of three police vehicles, but that evidence on hand indicated the bomb was triggered with a call from a mobile phone.

He also said two police officers and a paramedic were killed in the initial car bombing, which set all the vehicles on fire and also damaged nearby buildings.

When rescue crews arrived on scene, a second explosion killed a doctor, he added without clarifying whether the second blast was intentional or accidental.

The city`s public security ministry said the attack was retaliation for the capture of Jesus Armando Acosta, a leader of La Linea gang, the armed wing of the city`s notorious Juarez cartel.

Acosta allegedly had taken part "in at least 25 executions of Sinaloa cartel members," the ministry said in a statement.

Ciudad Juarez is at the heart of Mexico`s drug violence, which has sharply increased since President Felipe Calderon launched a military crackdown on organized crime after taking office at the end of 2006, setting off new turf wars.

Police have reported more than 1,500 murders in Ciudad Juarez since January 1.

More than 7,000 people have died across Mexico in drug-related attacks this year alone, and almost 25,000 have died in the past three and a half years, according to official figures released by the attorney general`s office on Friday.

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