MEXICO CITY -- Mexican soldiers patrolling in the border city of Nuevo Laredo came under fire from drug cartel gunmen Friday, then killed 12 of their attackers in a gunbattle, the military said.
The Defense Department said three army patrol trucks were hit by gunfire, but no troops were hurt. The gunmen were believed to belong to the Cartel of the Northeast, a split-off of the old Zetas cartel.
The department said one of the attackers' burned-out pickups was left at the scene and eight assault rifles and two .50-caliber sniper rifles were also found. Nuevo Laredo, which is across the Rio Grande from Laredo, Texas, has been the scene of bloody gunfights in recent years.
On April 1, the U.S. consulate in Nuevo Laredo issued an alert citing “reports of multiple gunfights and blockades throughout the city of Nuevo Laredo. U.S. government personnel are advised to shelter in place.”
On Jan. 4, the consulate wrote that “organized crime activity (including gun battles, murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, forced disappearances, extortion, and sexual assault) is common" in Nuevo Laredo. "Heavily armed members of criminal groups often patrol areas in marked and unmarked vehicles and operate with impunity. Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to crime incidents.”
Also on Friday, state police in the border state of Coahuila reported that officers killed five suspects after being fired on. The state government said the shootout occurred in the city of Torreón when police came under fire from a man who fled into a house, where four other occupants also began shooting.
In central Mexico, meanwhile, armed men killed five state police officers and wounded two others in Guanajuato, the state where 26 recovering addicts at a drug rehabilitation center were massacred earlier in the week.
Gov. Diego Sinhue Rodriguez wrote in his Twitter account: “I regret what happened to the five officers ... we will be intensifying our efforts to equip and train security personnel.”
Guanajuato has been the scene of bloody turf battles between the Jalisco drug cartel and the local Santa Rose de Lima gang. The killings have made it Mexico's most violent state.