MEXICO CITY - Mexico's lower house of congress has approved a bill that will require the federal government to provide financial support to victims of the country's brutal gang violence.

The lower house said congress unanimously backed the bill, known as the General Victims Act, which will provide financial, legal and medical aid to Mexicans caught up in the turf wars between drug gangs and their clashes with security forces.

More than 50,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent in the army to crush the cartels soon after taking office in December 2006.

Thousands of people have also gone missing during that period and victim rights groups have complained of abuses by government security forces.

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