Clashes leave nine dead in western Mexico

Clashes leave nine dead in western Mexico

Home Tue Jan 6, 2015 11:19PM

At least nine people have been killed in separate confrontations between government forces and armed men in Mexico’s western Michoacan state, officials say.

The clashes occurred on Tuesday after soldiers and federal police were deployed to disperse around 40 gunmen near the city of Apatzingan in the troubled region of Tierra Caliente, said Alfredo Castillo, the federal government’s security commissioner for Michoacan.

During the first confrontation, one man was killed and two police were injured after a vehicle ran into them, Castillo said.

Authorities arrested 44 men and seized 13 weapons and 23 vehicles from the unidentified gunmen.

In a second confrontation, another eight people were killed when police attempted to move the seized vehicles to a depot, the official added.

Michoacan state remains a key drug trafficking area, where the notorious Knights Templar drug cartel has its stronghold.

Violence has gripped Tierra Caliente since 2013, when farmers and other civilians formed vigilante groups to combat the influence of the Knights Templar gang.

The vigilante groups claim that local police were too incompetent or corrupt to protect them from local criminal gangs.

However, the self-defense groups accepted an offer from the government in May to become legal police units called rural forces.

The Mexican president has pledged to get rid of gang violence, which has claimed about 80,000 lives in Mexico since 2007.

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