WORLD

19 dead in clash with Mexican police

19 DEAD IN CLASH WITH MEXICAN POLICE

Nineteen gunmen were killed and five police officers injured in shootouts in Mazatlan, a resort city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, authorities announced Saturday.

A group of 17 armed men in four vehicles shot down two other men from a "rival group" late Friday in the town of Union Villa, forcing local police to intervene, authorities said in a statement.

The gunfight continued on a highway where police killed the gunmen, according to Sinaloa Deputy Secretary Cristobal Castaneda.

"Municipal police officers faced a considerable number of aggressors. However, thanks to their training and professionalism, they managed to get ahead. The wounded policemen are well," Casteneda said during a news conference.

Mazatlan Mayor Fernando Pucheta Sanchez assured the families of the wounded officers they would receive first-class medical care.

Authorities found give rifles and seven small guns in the vehicles of the 17 gunmen.

Many drug traffickers and groups originate from the strategic state, including the deadly Sinaloa cartel that was led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman until his extradition to the U.S. last January on drug trafficking charges.

Experts believe Guzman's capture created a power struggle between rival factions that want to control the cartel.

The Sinaloa cartel also battles for control of the territory against other criminal groups such as the Jalisco New Generation.

Award-winning reporter Javier Valdez, who specialized in covering drug trafficking, corruption and organized crime, was murdered in May in Culiacan, the capital of Sinaloa.

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