MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican security forces fought an hour-long gun gun battle Saturday with suspected cartel gunmen in Villa Union, a town in Coahuila state about an hour’s drive southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas, leaving at least 14 people dead, officials said.
Coahuila state Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme told local media four of the dead were police officers killed in the initial confrontation, and that several municipal workers were missing.
He said the armed group stormed the town of 3,000 residents in a convoy of trucks, attacking local government offices and prompting state and federal forces to intervene. Ten alleged members of the Cartel of the Northeast were killed in the response.
Videos of the shootout posted on social media showed burned out vehicles and the facade of Villa Union’s municipal office riddled with bullets. Rapid gunfire could be heard in videos along with frantic people telling loved ones to stay indoors. A damaged black pickup truck with the C.D.N. of the Cartel del Noreste, or Cartel of the Northeast, written in white on its door is seen on the street.
Security forces will remain in the town for several days to restore a sense of calm, the governor said.
“These groups won’t be allowed to enter state territory,” the government of Coahuila said in a statement.
Mexico’s murder rate has increased to historically high levels, inching up by 2% in the first 10 months of the presidency of Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Federal officials said recently that there have been 29,414 homicides so far in 2019, compared to 28,869 in the same period of 2018.
The November slaughter by Mexican drug cartel gunmen of three women who held U.S. citizenship and six of their children focused world attention on the rising violence.