Police in this northern border city, regarded as Mexico's murder capital, arrested a score of activists while they were painting crosses with the names of victims of violent crime.

The "indignants of Ciudad Juarez" managed to paint about 100 black crosses at spots where some of the more than 9,000 victims of violence in Juarez were found slain over the past three years.

The activists responded to a call by the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, led by Mexican poet and activist Javier Sicilia, to demand justice for victims of violence in Mexico.

"Ciudad Juarez has no legs but it continues to march on in its struggle. Today we're sticking 9,000 paper crosses with the names of the victims to show the sorrow that consumes us," one of the demonstrators, who asked to be identified only as Adriana, told Efe.

But some 100 municipal police officers who later arrived at the scene prevented the demonstrators from placing the crosses, sparking violent incidents that led to the arrests.

Authorities have not yet pressed charges against the detainees.

The movement headed by Sicilia, whose son was murdered earlier this year by suspected drug-gang members, called on the country to hold demonstrations to mark the Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico and "not surrender to violence and fear."

A turf war pitting the Sinaloa and Juarez cartels backed by local street gangs has made Ciudad Juarez, located across the border from El Paso, Texas, Mexico's most violent metropolis.

Even before the murder rate began skyrocketing in the border city three years ago, Juarez and its surrounding area had been notorious for the deaths of young women.

More than 500 women have been killed in Juarez since 1993, with the majority of the cases going unsolved.

Ciudad Juarez, with 191 homicides per 100,000 residents, was the most violent city in the world in 2009, registering a higher murder rate than San Pedro Sula, San Salvador, Caracas and Guatemala City, two Mexican non-governmental organizations said in a report released last year.

Drug-war violence has claimed nearly 50,000 lives nationwide since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the cartels.