CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico – Soldiers shot to death a pregnant 35-year-old woman after she reportedly failed to stop at a highway checkpoint in the northern state of Chihuahua, authorities said Friday.
Silvia Arzate died after soldiers opened fire on the sport utility vehicle she was driving near the capital of Chihuahua, which is experiencing a surge of violence as drug gangs battle each other and authorities, said the state prosecutors' spokesman, Eduardo Esparza.
The circumstances surrounding Thursday's shooting remain unclear.
Esparza said Arzate, who died of several gunshot wounds, had been carrying a cousin in her vehicle who had been wounded in an earlier gunbattle. Her mother was also aboard, but was not injured.
It was unclear if the cousin had been a participant in the earlier gunfight. Initial reports suggested Arzate may have been speeding in a bid to escape from another vehicle that was following her.
The Defense Department had no immediate comment on the shooting.
Army checkpoints in Mexico are sometimes poorly marked.
Many have criticized President Felipe Calderon for deploying more than 20,000 soldiers across Mexico to combat the country's violent drug cartels.
The National Human Rights Commission has documented cases of torture, rape and killings of civilians by solders, and called on the government to stop assigning soldiers to police duties.
The government has promised to do that eventually, but has set no timetable for doing so.