Monday, March 15, 2010

FP morning post 3/15

Shooting refocuses U.S. attention on Mexican drug war

Top news: Gunmen believed to be linked to Mexican drug cartels killed a pregnant U.S. consulate worker and her husband as well as the Mexican husband of another consulate worker in an ambush on their cars in Ciudad Juarez on Saturday. Several children were also wounded. The deaths occurred in the midst of a particularly bloody weekend for Mexico, in which at least 50 people were killed throughout the country in gang-related violence.

In a statement President Barack Obama pledged that U.S. and Mexican authorities would "work tirelessly to bring their killers to justice." FBI agents have been sent to Ciudad Juarez to assist in the investigation. It is rare for U.S. officials to be targeted in Mexico's drug violence, although cartels did lob a grenade at the U.S. consulate in Monterrey in 2008. The motivation for this weekend's attack is still unknown.

Authorities say the U.S.-Mexican border has become increasingly violent in recent weeks thanks to the breakdown of an alliance between two rival cartels. Dozens, including several journalists, have been killed and cartels have even set up "checkpoints" on roads to search for their rivals.

More than 18,000 people have been killed throughout Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an antidrug offensive in 2006. Despite critics who fear the drug war is becoming a quagmire, Calderon's efforts are enthusiastically supported by Washington which has provided more than $1 billion in aid.

War of the worlds: A satirical fake news broadcast about a Russian invasion caused public panic in Georgia.

Middle East
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the announcement of new settlement construction during Vice President Joe Biden's visit last week "regrettable" and "hurtful."
  • Yemen has launched a second day of airstrikes against suspected al Qaeda hideouts.
  • Israeli forces have arrested senior Hamas leader Maher U'dda.
  • Thailand's prime minister rejected an ultimatum to disolve parliament as thousands took to the streets in protest.
  • Chinese premier Wen Jiabao criticized U.S. "protectionism" in an annual news conference.
  • Pakistani jets attacked suspected Taliban hideouts in the northwestern Orakzai tribal area, killing at least nine people.
  • Nigeria's MEND rebels detonated a bomb outside a building where talks were being held about an amnesty deal for them.
  • The youth leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress was convicted of hate speech.
  • A dispute between Darfur rebel groups is threatening to undermine a proposed peace deal with the Sudanese government.
  • Parties tied to President Alvaro Uribe dominated Senate elections in Colombia.
  • A blackout left 90 percent of Chile without power.
  • U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Haiti where he toured camps where thousands displaced by January's earthquake live in increasingly desperate circumstances.
  • Socialists appear to be winning over Nicholas Sarkozy's UMP party in the first round of regional elections in France.
  • Sixty-nine members of the Georgian mafia were arrested throughout Europe in a coordinated sting operation.
  • Greece's government raised a number of taxes as European leaders meet today to discuss the country's debt crisis.
-By Joshua Keating

Jesus Alcazar/AFP/Getty Images

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