19 killed as Mex­i­can troops bat­tle gang

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Mex­i­can au­thor­i­ties said yesterday that at least 19 peo­ple died in clashes in­volv­ing armed men and se­cu­rity forces in the gang-plagued north­west­ern state of Si­naloa, where homi­cides have spiked dra­mat­i­cally fol­low­ing the cap­ture and ex­tra­di­tion of con­victed drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guz­man. The vi­o­lence be­gan with a shoot­ing Fri­day that killed two men near a depart­ment store in the town of Villa Union, about 15 miles south­east of the beach re­sort of Mazat­lan.

Of­fi­cials at­trib­uted it to war­ring drug gang mem­bers re­spon­si­ble for re­cent vi­o­lence in the state, which is home to Guz­man’s Si­naloa car­tel. “We be­lieve it has to do with the trans­port of drugs and the fight for ter­rain, for the ar­eas that these groups are fight­ing over,” Ge­naro Robles Casil­las, the Si­naloa state pub­lic se­cu­rity sec­re­tary, said at a news con­fer­ence. Po­lice were alerted by emer­gency calls, and municipal of­fi­cers en­coun­tered the sus­pected at­tack­ers as they were rid­ing in sev­eral pickup trucks.

A fierce gun­bat­tle broke out in which po­lice killed 17 sus­pects, of­fi­cials said. Five municipal po­lice of­fi­cers were wounded, but re­ported in sta­ble con­di­tion. El­e­ments of the marines, the army and the fed­eral po­lice also re­sponded to sup­port the local forces. Si­naloa is the birth­place of a num­ber of Mex­ico’s drug gang lead­ers, and killings have risen there af­ter Guz­man was cap­tured and then ex­tra­dited to the United States ear­lier this year to face drug charges. Se­cu­rity ex­perts say a power strug­gle has since bro­ken out be­tween op­pos­ing fac­tions of the Si­naloa car­tel, which also faces chal­lenges from other gangs such as the Jalisco New Gen­er­a­tion car­tel.

Dur­ing the first five months of the year, homi­cides jumped by 76 per­cent in Si­naloa state com­pared with the same pe­riod in 2016, ac­cord­ing to govern­ment crime sta­tis­tics. The killings in­clude the May 15 slay­ing of Javier Valdez, an award-win­ning re­porter who spe­cial­ized in cov­er­ing drug traf­fick­ing and or­ga­nized crime, in the state cap­i­tal, Culiacan. Homi­cides were also up about 30 per­cent na­tion­wide in Mex­ico for the Jan­uary-May pe­riod. As­so­ci­ated Press writer Maria Verza re­ported this story in Culiacan and AP writer Peter Orsi re­ported from Mex­ico City.— AP

SI­NALOA STATE: In­ves­ti­ga­tors take pic­tures at the crime scene next to bod­ies ly­ing on a road in the town of Navolato, Si­naloa state, Mex­ico. 59 AK type and AR-15 bul­let cas­ings were found in the area. — AP

MAZAT­LAN: Spent bul­let cas­ing lit­ter a road af­ter au­thor­i­ties re­ported a gun bat­tle with armed men near the beach re­sort of Mazat­lan, Mex­ico on Satur­day, July 1, 2017. — AP

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