Security forces in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, were able to hold off two attacks by criminal groups on Tuesday night.
As many as 12 suspected criminals died after two separate attempted ambushes of police and soldiers in the border city.
In the first attack, gunmen aboard a pickup truck with Texas license plates attacked an elite unit of Tamaulipas state police near the Nuevo Laredo airport. Seven of the aggressors were killed in the ensuing confrontation.
Police suffered no casualties, but an innocent bystander was wounded by a gunshot.
The second attack took place at an army barracks which was followed by a car chase in which state police supported the military. Five of the attackers were killed.
The criminal organization presumed to be responsible for the attacks identified itself as the Tropa del Infierno (Hell’s Army), an armed wing of the Northeast Cartel, a Zetas splinter group.
Anonymous sources told reporters that the leader of the Northeast Cartel, Juan Gerardo Treviño Chávez, was among those killed but the information has not been confirmed by officials.
According to local media, the Tropa del Infierno sent a message to authorities claiming responsibility for an attack last week on a hotel in Nuevo Laredo in which a police officer was killed and two others were wounded.
“To all the tricky state police who have come to Nuevo Laredo, we made it clear with what we did to you yesterday,” the message read.
Later on Tuesday, families including women and children protested at a hotel where state police were staying to protest abuses by the officers. The protesters threatened to burn vehicles that were parked at the hotel.