Police at the scene of one of the gunfights in Guerrero. Police at the scene of one of the gunfights in Guerrero.

16 dead after armed civilians clash with security forces in Guerrero

6 police among victims during confrontations in Zihuatanejo, Petatlán

Six state police officers were among 16 people killed last night in violent clashes in two municipalities in the state of Guerrero.

The incidents occurred in the Costa Grande region between 7:00pm and 8:00pm, one in Zihuatanejo, the other in Petatlán.

State security spokesman Roberto Álvarez Heredia said 10 presumed criminals died in two connected confrontations with security forces near El Coacoyul, located about nine kilometers south of Zihuatanejo.

“In the vicinity of El Coacoyul, a state police patrol car was attacked by around 15 armed civilians who were carrying AK-47-style assault weapons. Public security forces repelled the aggression and killed three [gunmen],” he said.

Álvarez explained that the rest of the armed men then dispersed to a nearby hill, while the state police called for backup.

“. . . The army, the navy and ministerial police arrived at the location provoking a second confrontation that left a toll of seven civilian deaths . . .” the official said.

In the neighboring municipality of Petatlán, six state police officers were ambushed by civilians also wielding AK-47s, resulting in the deaths of all six men.

The incident occurred in the community of El Camalote after the police had completed their work day in nearby  Tondonicua.

In February, security officials said they had identified 18 active criminal gangs fighting for territorial control in the state, one of Mexico’s most violent.

Beyond Guerrero, there were at least another 19 homicides in four other states yesterday.

In Chihuahua, the leader of a civil resistance organization known as Madero Unido was killed, while there were 11 homicides in Oaxaca, five in Baja California and two in San Luis Potosí.

In Jalisco, for the second time in as many days serious deficiencies in the coordination between Mexico’s security forces were exposed.

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Municipal police from Ocotlán mistakenly pursued and fired at Federal Police officers carrying out an intelligence operation aimed at arresting the leader of a criminal organization.

There were no injuries although the federal forces were reportedly hit by six bullets.

Early Monday, two navy helicopters mistakenly fired at five police state police vehicles, after which Jalisco Governor Aristóteles Sandoval said it was necessary to “fine tune the coordination” between security forces.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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