Mexican rights activist killed in border city

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TIJUANA, Mexico (AP) — A human rights activist has been killed in Mexico’s violent border city of Ciudad Juarez, authorities said Thursday.

Josefina Reyes, who belonged to the National Front Against Repression, a rights group that mainly investigated police and army abuses, was killed on Jan. 3 in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas.

The National Human Rights Commission warned that the killing indicates “attacks against defenders of human rights are on the rise.”

Attacks against and harassment of rights activists has risen from 16 cases in 2007 to 24 in 2008 and 25 in 2009, the commission said.

Ciudad Juarez has been the hardest hit by Mexico’s drug violence, with about 2,500 drug-related killings in 2009.

The commission did not say how Reyes was killed, or whether the killing was related to organized crime.

In Tijuana, across from San Diego, authorities said three 16-year-old students — two boys and a girl — were killed Wednesday.

Three of their classmates at La Mesa high school told The Associated Press Thursday at least one of the victims was a known drug dealer who frequently missed classes and sometimes peddled narcotics at or near the school. The students asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal.

School Director Vicente Narvaiz said he had no information linking the victim to illicit activity, and Baja California state assistant education secretary Raul Aleman said there was no record of any complaint against him.

Also Thursday, gunmen attacked an army patrol in the western state of Michoacan with assault rifles and grenades, touching off a gunbattle that killed a soldier and four suspects.

Three suspects and a soldier were also wounded in the shootout in the city of La Piedad, the state attorney general’s office said.

The confrontation began when gunmen in one vehicle tried to cut off the army patrol — a tactic frequently employed by drug gangs to help high-ranked traffickers escape authorities.