Friday, July 23, 2010

8 suspects killed in clash with Mexican soldiers

Eight suspected drug gang gunmen died in a battle with Mexican soldiers in the remote mountains of northern Chihuahua state, the federal Public Safety Department said Thursday. The department cited an internal army report saying the clash occurred near the rural town of Madera, about 145 miles (230 kilometers) south of the U.S. border. The gunmen apparently opened fire on an army patrol, but the Defense Department did not offer any information on the attack or the identity of the attackers. The area is frequently used by gangs to produce and traffic drugs. Also Thursday, the army command in the border state of Tamaulipas said soldiers seized two extended pickup trucks painted with Mexican army emblems and colors near the border community of Ciudad Mier. A statement by the Eighth Military Region command said drug traffickers had painted the trucks "to disguise themselves as military personnel" and "confuse the public and cover up their illegal acts." The army has been the subject of numerous human rights complaints since it moved into a front-line role against drug gangs in late 2006. The military claims drug gangs have used army uniforms to discredit troops. On Wednesday, the border city of Nuevo Laredo was practically paralyzed by late-night gunbattles in which gangs forced citizens from their cars and used the vehicles to block streets. The sound of gunfire alarmed Texans on the U.S. side of the Rio Grande. The Nuevo Laredo city government posted messages on its Facebook page warning citizens to stay indoors as shooting erupted at several intersections in the city across from Laredo, Texas. Frightened people on the U.S. side of the border called emergency dispatchers after hearing the gunfire, Laredo police spokesman Joe Baeza said Thursday. But he said there was no spillover violence...more

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