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Gunfight kills at least 19 in northern Mexico

Coahuila state Gov. Miguel Riquelme Solis looks at a police vehicle hit during a gunbattle between Mexican security forces and suspected cartel gunmen in Villa Union on Saturday, November 30, 2019.

COAHUILA, Mexico — Nineteen people were killed in a gunfight between suspected cartel members and security forces in northeastern Mexico, according to the state government of Coahuila.

Four police officers, two civilians and 13 suspected cartel members were among the dead Saturday, Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme Solis said. Authorities had initially said that 14 people were dead.

Another six people were were injured, Solis added Sunday.

The battle broke out between security forces and suspected members of the cartel of the Northeast in the town of Villa Union, about 40 miles south of the U.S. border town of Eagle Pass, Texas. It lasted about an hour, Solis said.

Authorities apprehended 14 vehicles with powerful weaponry, according to the governor.

Images from the state government showed a local municipal building and police vehicle riddled with bullet holes.

Criminal groups have long sought to enter the state, Solis said in a news conference Saturday. “Organized crime, specifically the Cartel del Noreste, tries to get into Coahuila every day at some point, in one of its areas,” he said, adding, “Today they got in by force and with a contingent that is not like anything we have seen in a long time.”

But “we won’t allow organized crime to come to the area,” he said.

“Many years ago they came in with impunity,” Solis said. “They came into our cities and municipalities and nothing happened. Not nowadays. This was a forceful response.”

The shootout occurred just days after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would designate Mexican cartels as foreign terrorist organizations, adding that the U.S. had offered to “go in and clean it out,” but the Mexican government had “rejected the offer.”

Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said Wednesday that the Mexican government was in contact with the U.S. regarding the possible designation, but Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has indicated that he doesn’t want the U.S. to intervene.

Early last month, nine women and children from a Mormon community in Mexico were killed by suspected drug cartels.

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