Photography bt: STRINGER / REUTERS on Le Monde
In a clash between gunmen from a criminal gang and residents of a small farming community, a video showed them chasing and fighting against the gang members using sickles and rifles amid gunfire, in central Mexico.
Police in the State of Mexico, which abuts Mexico City, said the clash occurred in the hamlet of Texcaltitlán, about 80 miles (130km) southwest of the capital.
The dramatic video posted on social media of the fight, which took place on Friday, showed villagers in cowboy hats with sickles and hunting rifles chasing down suspected gang members amid bursts of automatic gunfire.
It left 14 people dead and seven injured, local authorities said on Saturday. Seven others were injured and still being treated for their wounds.
Delfina Gómez, Mexico’s state governor, and other local leaders condemned the violence, saying it was a product of regional violence that has been slowly brewing for years. Maintaining order, she said, was among her top priorities.
She added that “These events do not paralyse us, on the contrary, they reaffirm our determination to improve security conditions in our beloved state, rest assured that we will continue working so that events like this are not repeated,” she said in a press conference on Saturday. “You are not alone; we are with you.”
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador attributed the violence to drug consumption and neglect by his predecessors.
However, they argued that previous governments "never took care of young people. That’s why they got pulled in and ended up in criminal ranks. You have to shower them with a lot of love," López Obrador said in a Saturday speech.
While the police were unable to identify the gang, they confirmed that the Familia Michoacana drug cartel has been dominant in that area for many years and officials said that 10 of the dead were members of the criminal gang, while four were village residents.
Villagers had been seen to apparently set their bodies and vehicles on fire while the attackers wore military-style uniforms, where some wore helmets too.
Earlier that day, local media said Familia Michoacana gunmen showed up in the village demanding local farmers pay a per-acre (hectare) extortion fee.
Drug cartels in Mexico have been infamously known to extort money from almost any licit or illicit business that they can, sometimes attacking or burning ranches, farms or stores that refuse to pay. Hence why this local village was unfortunately attacked.
This gang, the Familia Michoacana, is known for its brazen ambushes of police as well as the 2022 massacre of 20 townspeople in the town of Totolapan in neighbouring Guerrero state. The attack on that day killed the town’s mayor, his father and 18 other men.
Edited by: Vicky Muzio
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