Mexican security forces kill 22 'drug gang members'

Mexican troops in Monterrey, 7 June 14 Drug gang activities have led to an increase in violence across Mexico over the past decade

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At least 22 alleged gang members were killed in a shootout with security forces in the southwest of the country.

The incident took place early on Monday when soldiers patrolling the area came under fire from suspected gang members, prosecutors said.

Criminal organisations are known to operate in the area, in the southern part of Mexico state.

This is one of the most violent clashes with drug cartels since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in 2012.

Monday's shootout took place in the municipality of Tlatlaya.

Mexican authorities said that the 22 victims were probably members of La Familia Michoacana drug cartel.

The criminal gang is active in neighbouring Michoacan and Guerrero states.

No soldier is reported to have been injured in the incident.

'War on drugs'

When Mr Pena Nieto was sworn in 19 months ago he promised to review the war on drugs policy of his predecessor, Felipe Calderon.

Critics say Mr Calderon's decision to deploy the armed forces to combat the powerful drug cartels in December 2006 led to a sharp increase in violence.

At least 60,000 people are estimated to have been killed in drug-related violence during his six-year term.

Despite the criticism, Mr Pena Nieto's government has continued to fight the gangs.

In February it managed to arrest Mexico's most wanted drug lord - Joaquin Shorty Guzman - who had evaded justice for more than a decade.

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