14 killed in gun battle between police and cartel gunmen in Mexico

The state police engaged with heavily armed gunmen traveling in pickup trucks in Villa Union, a small town 65 km southwest of the border city of Piedras Negras

Four policemen and ten cartel gunmen were killed on Saturday in a shootout in Villa Union, a small Mexican town near the US border.

According to Reuters, the government of the northern state of Coahuila said that the state police engaged with heavily armed gunmen travelling in pickup trucks in Villa Union, 65 km southwest of the border city of Piedras Negras.

Miguel Angel Riquelme, Governor of Coahuila, told reporters that the gunfight lasted for over an hour and that four policemen were killed and six were hurt. He also said that ten gunmen were killed.

Dead body

The governor also said that he believed that the gunmen were members of the Cartel of the Northeast, which is from Tamaulipas state. The governor said that authorities seized over a dozen guns and identified fourteen vehicles that had been used in the attack.

The incident comes just a few days after US President Donald Trump stressed that he would classify all gangs as terrorists. Following Trump's statements, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Friday that he would not accept interference in the country's problem with violent criminal gangs by any foreign power.

Echoing the Mexican Presidents' view, Riquelme told reporters, "I don't think that Mexico needs intervention. I think Mexico needs collaboration and cooperation." Despite being a part of the part that is in opposition to Lopez Obrador, he added, "We're convinced that the state has the power to overcome the criminals."

An account on Twitter that appeared to be Governor Miguel Angel Riquelme's, pictures of the Governor surveying the area of fighting can be seen. Some of them include that of the bullet-ridden offices of Villa Union mayor.

The pressure to act on gang violence

Mexico has drawn severe criticism over the handling of its gang violence problem. In October, the armed forces released a captured son of drug lord Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzman after retaliation from cartel gunmen in the city of Culiacan. Earlier this month, a police officer involved in the arrest of Guzman's son was shot over 150 times. On November 4, Nine members-- women and children, belonging to a Mormon community in northern Mexico were ambushed and killed by gunmen.

Following the attack, Trump in a tweet stated that the US was 'merely waiting' for Mexico's call seeking their assistance against the cartels.

Trump said in an interview that aired on Tuesday, that he intended to label the cartels as terrorist organisations. This has prompted worries that the action could serve as an overture to the US trying to intervene in Mexico.

(With agency inputs)

This article was first published on December 1, 2019