At least seven people were killed and 20 were wounded in clashes between armed civilians in Mexico\’s violence-plagued southern state of Guerrero, officials said Wednesday.
The shootouts erupted late Tuesday in El Naranjo, a hamlet that is part of the municipality of Tlacotepec, which lies in a mountainous region where drug gangs grow opium poppies.
"At the moment we have seven people dead," a state government official, who requested anonymity, told AFP.
The Guerrero government\’s secretary general, David Cienfuegos, told Milenio television that local hospital staff say 10 people died and another 20 were wounded.
State police headed to the area to confirm the death toll and investigate what happened, Cienfuegos said.
"Apparently no federal or state force was involved," he said.
A brief report by the state prosecutor\’s office said "various clashes between hitmen" took place in El Naranjo.
The impoverished state of Guerrero has been the scene of some of Mexico\’s worst drug gang-related violence.
It was in the city of Iguala that crooked police detained 43 college students in September and delivered them to the Guerreros Unidos gang, which slaughtered the group, according to prosecutors.
More recently, residents of the town of Chilapa reported that at least 11 people were kidnapped by an armed group that occupied the town for five days last week.
While the group described itself as a vigilante force, authorities are investigating whether it was infiltrated by a gang. Chilapa is at the center of a turf war between two gangs.
A Chilapa mayoral candidate was murdered earlier this month ahead of June 7 elections.