Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico troops sent to La Ruana after vigilante shoot-out

Mexican federal police and members of the Army arrive in La Ruana on 17 December 2014 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Hundreds of federal police officers and members of the army have been deployed to La Ruana

More than 400 federal police officers and soldiers have been sent to a town in Mexico's western Michoacan state.

The deployment follows a shoot-out between two vigilante groups on Tuesday in which 11 people were killed.

Ballistic tests showed all of those killed had fired their weapons in the two-hour gun battle in La Ruana.

The two groups of vigilantes were set up to fight the local drug cartel, but have since become bitter rivals and have started fighting each other.


Five members of a group led by Hipolito Mora and six followers of his rival, Luis Antonio Torres, were killed.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Luis Antonio Torres (centre) says his men were fired on by gunmen shooting from rooftops
Image copyright AP
Image caption Hipolito Mora (foreground) says he will not give up his weapons

Mr Mora's 33-year-old son was also among those shot dead.

Mr Torres told local media that his men had been fired on as they were approaching a roadblock manned by members of Mr Mora's vigilante group.

"We only felt the bullets raining down on us, so we defended ourselves," he said, describing how Mr Mora's supporters shot at them from surrounding rooftops.

"We weren't going to stand by with our arms crossed waiting to be killed."

Mr Mora did not give a description of the shooting but said he would request protection from the police.

Mr Mora said he would not give up his weapons or ask his men to disarm because "that would be akin to suicide".

Growing tension

Security commissioner Alfredo Castillo said that if evidence suggested Mr Mora was involved in the shooting, he would be detained.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Federal investigators searched the scene of Tuesday's shootout for evidence

Mr Mora's and Mr Torres's "self-defence groups" were set up in February 2013 to fight a drugs cartel calling itself the Knights Templar.

Earlier this year, they took control of a number of towns in the western state and drove out the Knights Templar, who had been extorting money from local businessmen and farmers.

But tensions soon emerged between the different groups, which accused each other of having been infiltrated by the very same drugs gang they were set up to fight.

There were also disputes as the groups seized ranches and land previously held by the Knights Templar.

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