Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tunisia's Parliament votes on new Government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

French court rules #burkini ban "clearly illegal"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Biden in Turkey, Colombia Peace Deal, Ethiopia Olympic Protest (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Earthquake in Italy, French Burkini Ruling (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The hidden secrets of Les Invalides

Read more

FOCUS

Pro-Opposition stronghold Port-Gentil feverishly awaits presidential elections

Read more

ENCORE!

Alexis Michalik: treading the boards in the footsteps of 'Edmond'

Read more

REPORTERS

Getting away with murder in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Why does Italy refuse to see the seismic risk?'

Read more

Americas

Mexican troops in deadly clashes with vigilantes

© Photo: AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-15

Mexican soldiers and federal police clashed with vigilantes on Tuesday after a new government campaign to stop violence between “self-defence” groups and drugs cartels in the western state of Michoacan turned deadly.

There were widely varying reports of casualties, with rumours that women and children may have been killed. AP journalists saw the bodies of two men reportedly killed in a clash that began late on Monday between soldiers and residents in Antunez and spoke with the family of a third man that said he also died in the incident.

Militia spokesman Estanislao Beltran told AP that the confrontation was with about 60-80 soldiers. There were at least as many civilians, according to witnesses.

Beltran told AFP that one soldier opened fire on the crowd, killing four people.

The mother of one of the people allegedly killed, a 25-year-old man hit by a stray bullet, told AFP that the crowd had gathered "just to ask for peace and security".

The National Human Rights Commission said it would investigate the four alleged deaths.

But federal authorities were yet to confirm on Tuesday any casualties while the state prosecutor's office said one person died.

The attorney general’s office said it could not confirm the number of dead. The interior ministry said it had no information about soldiers arriving in Antunez on Monday night.

Government backing

The vigilantes have converged, over the past few days, on Apatzingan, a stronghold of one of the country's biggest cartels - the Knights Templar - and the hub of the rich farming region that is a major producer of limes, avocados and mangos.

Rumours are circulating that some self-defence groups involved have been infiltrated by the rival New Generation cartel. The vigilantes vehemently deny the claim.

After initially arresting the vigilantes months ago, the federal government under Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong appeared to be working with them recently. The army and federal police have provided helicopter cover and road patrols while the self-defence groups attacked the cartel, but never intervened in the battles.

Security analyst Alejandro Hope, who formerly worked for Mexico’s intelligence agency, called the government’s strategy in Michoacan a “disaster".

“Last week they were protecting the vigilantes,” said Hope, director of security policy at the Mexican Competitiveness Institute. “Secretary Osorio practically said they were useful ... now they’re going to put them down with firepower and bloodshed?”

The government doesn’t agree with that assessment, said an official with the interior ministry who was not authorised to speak to the press by name.

“It’s a strategy that’s being adjusted, modified based on the demands of what is happening on the ground,” the official said.

Osorio Chong announced the new strategy on Monday following a weekend of gun fights as the vigilantes extended their control to the communities of Antunez, Paracuaro and Nueva Italia. Burning trucks and buses blocked highways, while two bodies were found hanging from a bridge.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)

Date created : 2014-01-15

  • MEXICO

    Mexico arrests key drug cartel boss

    Read more

  • MEXICO

    Mexico captures leader of Zetas drug cartel

    Read more

  • MEXICO

    Mexico left red-faced after 'wrong drug lord' arrest

    Read more

COMMENT(S)