By Jesus Bustamante
CULIACAN, Mexico (Reuters) – Two armed attacks in the violence-plagued western Mexican state of Sinaloa, home of notorious drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, have left 16 people dead, the head of the state’s public security ministry said on Thursday.
Security forces found the bodies of seven supposed cartel hitmen on a dirt road, strewn next to a bullet-riddled pickup truck, apparent victims of a shootout.
“There are seven bodies, most of whom were wearing tactical clothing and vests, apparently only one firearm was found,” said public security minister Cristobal Castaneda. “Clearly this is a fight between gangs or organized criminal groups,” he added.
A separate attack on a small town left another nine fatalities, seven of them supposedly local residents and the other two bodies have not been identified.
One of the unidentified bodies had an AK-47, said Castaneda.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador assumed the presidency in December 2018 pledging to pacify the country with a less confrontational approach to security, but violence has continued rising and murders hit an all-time high last year.
(Reporting by Jesus Bustamante; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Michael Perry)