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Narco Blog: Rival Gang Violence Leaves 11 Dead in Veracruz
Photo: Violence in Veracruz
Five gunmen killed 11 people in multiple attacks in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz before dying in a clash with Mexican security forces, authorities said Thursday.
The mayhem began in the wee hours of Thursday, when the assailants opened fire on three buses traveling on the Tempoal-Panuco highway near Veracruz’s border with Tamaulipas state.
Seven bus passengers died and the attackers killed four more people in the town of El Higo, the state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.
Hours later, a task force of police, soldiers and marines mobilized after the bus attacks caught up with the gunmen and killed them, seizing an armored SUV and five assault rifles.
Authorities moved quickly to boost security measures on roads in northern Veracruz, state government spokesperson Gina Dominguez told Milenio Television.
Besides a heightened police presence due to higher traffic during the holiday period, “federal forces maintain permanent operations with checkpoints,” she said.
An investigation is under way to determine the identities, origin and motives of the gunmen, Dominguez said.
Additional federal forces have been deployed in the state since October as part of the “Safe Veracruz” operation, launched after an eruption of gangland violence in and around the port city of Veracruz, where residents were stunned in September by the discovery of 35 bodies dumped on a busy thoroughfare.
The Gulf, Los Zetas, and the relatively new Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartels, as well as breakaway members of the once-powerful La Familia Michoacana crime syndicate, are fueling the violence in Veracruz, which is Mexico’s third-most populous state and a key drug-trafficking corridor to the United States.
More than 15,000 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year and 50,000 people have perished since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.