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Michoacan students caught in cartel gunfight Students in a Matanguarán school taking cover as they listen to nearby gunfire outside. Screen capture

Gunfights close schools in 2 Michoacán municipalities

In one town, teachers and students at two schools found themselves caught in cartel crossfire

Gunfire forced the closure of schools in two Michoacán municipalities in recent days, but most reopened on Monday.

At least two schools in Matanguarán, a community in the municipality of Uruapan, closed Thursday due to a gunfight, while more than 20 in Nuevo Parangaricutiro shut the same day due to a confrontation between presumed members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and the Cárteles Unidos.

In Matanguarán, students and teachers at a primary school and a high school were caught in the crossfire of a shootout, the newspaper Milenio reported. A video posted to Youtube by the newspaper El Sol de Morelia shows students taking cover on the floor of their classroom during the confrontation.

The Matanguarán primary and high schools remained closed on Monday, Milenio said, but the Michoacán Ministry of Education said in a statement that the majority of schools that shut due to violence reopened on Monday.

Milenio visited Matanguarán, an avocado-producing town about 20 kilometers from Uruapan, and reported that armed groups are visible in the area.

Michoacan teachers leaving school under fire by cartels
After being trapped in their school for three hours, teachers and students left the school in a convoy escorted by authorities. Screen capture

The newspaper said that at least a dozen armed men wearing bulletproof vests were seen in a black pickup truck. It said that residents don’t know whether they are members of a self-defense force or drug traffickers but acknowledged that they have been in the area for months. Residents told Milenio that the same men were involved in last week’s gunfight.

In Nuevo Parangaricutiro, which borders Uruapan, last Thursday’s early morning clash left left five men dead. The confrontation occurred in and around the municipal palace in the town of Nuevo San Juan Parangaricutiro. There is a primary school just meters from the municipal palace, but it was empty when the gunfight occurred, Milenio said.

The newspaper reported that the facade of the José María Morelos primary school was damaged by hundreds of bullets during the clash, while the janitor found spent casings in the schoolyard on Monday.

Principal Adolfo Torres noted that the school has protocols to protect students in case of gunfire in close proximity. Three rings of the school bell advise students and teachers to remain in their classrooms and lie down on the floor, he said.

Michoacán was Mexico’s third most violent state last year, with over 2,700 homicides. Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla said recently that pacifying the state might take six years.

With reports from Milenio 

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