Catholic officials condemned the slayings of 10 young people in the state of Durango and suspended long-running Holy Week missionary programs. Durango state judicial officials said the young people, ages 8-21, apparently failed to stop for a false checkpoint established by presumed drug cartel members March 28. At least 40 shots were fired and a grenade was tossed at the victims. They had traveled in a pickup truck from their communal farm to get funds distributed through a conditional cash-transfer program that supports 5 million of Mexico's poorest families. "We tremendously regret that this involved children. This is what outrages us the most," said Father Victor Manuel Solis, spokesman for the Durango Archdiocese. The slayings were yet another example of the increase in the number of young people who have been caught up—inadvertently or not—in cartel violence that has claimed more than 19,000 lives since December 2006. Father Solis said security concerns forced church officials to suspend long-standing Holy Week missionary programs for more than 3,000 students in Durango and the neighboring state of Chihuahua. The priest said Easter activities would not be canceled.
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