Mexico shootout leaves at least 14 dead

National ombudsperson Luis Raul Gonzalez (R) speaks with representative of the United Nations Office against drugs and Crime in Mexico (Unodc) Antonio de Leo (L) during the presentation of the Diagnosis on the Situation of Trafficking in Persons in Mexico 2019, in Mexico City, Mexico, 09 July 2019. Mexico recorded 5,245 victims of human trafficking between June 2012 and July 2017 but only 790 were officially recognized in court rulings, according to reports. EPA-EFE/MARIO GUZMAN

A shootout in a Mexican town near the US border between suspected drug traffickers and police left at least 14 dead, including four officers, officials said Saturday.

The confrontation broke out shortly before noon in Villa Union in the northern state of Coahuila when officers detected several vehicles and heavily armed passengers touring the small community, which is roughly 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the US border.

Four of those killed were police, seven were suspected criminals and another three unidentified bodies were found nearby on a rural road, Coahuila governor Miguel Angel Riquelme told reporters.

Six officers were also wounded but their injuries were not serious and they had already been discharged from hospital, Riquelme said.

An unspecified number of people — including a child — were also missing, government officials added.

Local authorities said twelve trucks were seized in the operation, as well as several high-calibre weapons and an unspecified load of ammunition.

Video shared on Riquelme’s official Facebook page showed the bullet-ridden mayor’s office, while images showed some of the chaos left after the confrontation.

The attack comes after Mexico’s leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador warned he would not allow the US to conduct cross-border armed operations against drug cartels in the country, after President Donald Trump said he planned to designate Mexican drug hangs as terrorist organizations.

The US president has been talking tough on the powerful drug cartels since one was allegedly responsible for the massacre of nine women and children from a US-Mexican Mormon community in northern Mexico on November 4.

Trump has said he would help Mexico tackle the drug gangs, and the two countries have cooperated closely in the fight against drug cartels.

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