7 killed in shootout as gunmen ambush soldiers in Mexico
At least five suspected criminals and two soldiers were killed in a shootout after gunmen ambushed a military unit in southwest Mexico, authorities reported on Saturday.
The confrontation occurred Friday afternoon in the community of El Pescado, in a mountainous area of the state of Guerrero that is difficult to access and the scene of conflicts between criminal groups.
A military unit "was the target of an attack by approximately 18 armed civilians aboard two vehicles," after which a shootout broke out, according to an army report.
Five gunmen and two soldiers were killed while two people suffered gunshot wounds.
According to local authorities, the attackers were likely members of La Familia Michoacana, which was formerly one of the most powerful drug cartels in Mexico but lost much of its influence after the capture of its leaders.
The cartel has been regrouping and has been involved in various violent incidents.
According to authorities, La Familia Michoacana is battling the Los Tequileros criminal group -- an affiliate of the powerful Jalisco Nueva Generacion drug cartel -- for control of the area where they engage in drug trafficking, extortion and kidnapping.
In December, three journalists were abducted in a region controlled by Las Familia Michoacana, and Los Tequileros was allegedly behind an October attack in Guerrero, which left 18 people dead, including a local mayor.
Guerrero, one of Mexico's poorest states, has endured years of violence linked to turf wars between drug cartels fighting for control of marijuana and opium production and drug trafficking.
In January, prosecutors in southern Guerrero said they found the bodies of five men in a village. Local media reported the bodies had been hacked up and left in plastic bags.
More than 350,000 people have been killed across Mexico in a spiral of bloodshed since the government deployed the army to fight drug cartels in 2006, according to official figures.
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