A night of terror in Juárez left Borderland residents worried for their loved ones and wondering whether Mexican authorities would quell the wave of violence unleashed by rival criminal gangs in the wake of a prison riot.
The riot inside a state prison known as CERESO No. 3 left two people shot dead and dozens injured after incarcerated members of two criminal organizations breached security after 1 p.m. and battled each other, said Mexico's Undersecretary for Public Security Ricardo Mejía Berdeja.
Gang members took their revenge on the city's residents, sowing terror from around 3 p.m. well into the night, setting fire to vehicles and convenience stores and murdering nine people.
Aided by the Mexican National Guard, Juárez municipal police detained six people overnight in a neighborhood near the airport and identified them as gang members, Mejía Berdeja said during Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's morning news conference on Friday. This morning, authorities said a total of 10 people had been taken into custody.
In a city with coveted ports of entry to the enormous U.S. illicit drug market, drug-related violence is taken as a sad fact of daily life by many residents. But Thursday's violence shattered their common wisdom - however flawed - that those who stay out of the drug trade and gang life will be safe.
On Friday, López Obrador lamented the attacks in Juárez and evoked that trope.
"Hopefully it's not something that will be repeated, because they attacked the civilian population, innocent people," said Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during his Friday news conference. "It wasn't just a fight between two groups; they began shooting civilians, and this is the most unfortunate part."
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As violence erupted across the city, attack after attack, the chain of Oxxo convenience stores ordered its Juárez locations to shutter, and many other businesses shut down as well. Borderland residents sent flurries of links to each other, sharing news reports, gruesome cellphone videos and voice messages urging everyone to stay home.
In the Borderland's Reporte de Puentes Facebook group with more than 300,000 members, people began posting prayers for the Mexican border city in lieu of the traffic report at the sister city's three international bridges.
"Let's do a chain of prayer for our city," said a woman identifying as Nancy and as an El Paso resident in the group at 7 p.m. She wrote in Spanish: "I know that faith can move mountains and prayer is the hand of God. Our Father, who art in Heaven..."
The attacks were a tragic and traumatic reminder of the sort of generalized violence residents lived through during the four-year drug war between drug trafficking organizations vying for control of la plaza, the corridor into the U.S. Between 2008 and 2012, more than 10,000 people were killed in Juárez. Many residents old enough to have survived those years recall witnessing shootouts and bodies in the street.
On Friday, numerous businesses remained shuttered, including convenience stores, restaurants and pharmacies. Public school doesn't begin until Aug. 29, but the city's largest public universities, la Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez and Instituto Tecnológico de Juárez, canceled classes on Thursday and moved Friday and Saturday classes online.
The city mayor and state governor waited hours after the attacks began to make their initial public statements.
"Today Juarenses are in mourning but also on this terrible night, hundreds of law enforcement are working in Juárez for Juárez," Mayor Cruz Perez Cuellar said in midnight posts to Twitter and Facebook. "Since these cowardly attacks began, the municipal police has been in the streets working and giving everything to re-establish order."
Twitter user Hugo Cedillo responded to Perez Cuellar saying, "And then, what's the plan, what's the strategy? The attacks in Juarez began at 3 in the afternoon and you communicated nothing. We want results. We want security."
Chihuahua Gov. Maru Campos lamented the loss of life in social media posts before 11 p.m. Thursday and said she "immediately" ordered law enforcement operations across the city.
"All of the force of the state, together with federal and municipal authorities, are focused on re-establishing order and peace," she said. "Los juarenses aren't alone."
Martha Pskowski contributed to this report.
This is a developing story.
This article originally appeared on El Paso Times: Ciudad Juarez prison riot sparks rash of homicides, terror