Forty-two suspected gang members and one Federal Police officer were killed in a shootout at a ranch in western Mexico that is being described as the deadliest such encounter in recent memory.
The firefight unfolded Friday evening in the town of Tanhuato, near the border between Michoacan and Jalisco, roughly 210 miles northwest of Mexico City. The Washington Post says two drug cartels "have waged a long-running battle and ... attacks against Mexican authorities have recently spiked" in the region.
The Associated Press reports: "The battle ... followed two other recent unprecedented attacks by the cartel, one that killed 15 state police officers and another that shot down an army helicopter with a rocket launcher for the first time in Mexico's history. The death toll from all three is at least 76 people at a time when the Mexican government claims crime is falling dramatically and the interior minister recently insisted the country 'is not in flames.'"
"Black smoke billowing upward from vehicles set on fire during the fighting and photographs from the scene showed bodies, some with semi-automatic rifles and others without weapons, lying in fields, next to farm equipment and on a blood-stained patio strewn with clothes, mattresses and sleeping bags," according to the AP.
The Post says: "Mexican authorities offered few details Friday afternoon about the killings, which involved the New Generation cartel of Jalisco and a convoy of federal police and soldiers. The governor of Michoacan, Salvador Jara, said on a radio address that at least one policeman died, as well as 42 gunmen, although those numbers were not confirmed."