Obama administration-backed Mexican troops opened fire this week on a group of civilians seeking to keep their weapons and rein in ruthless government-linked drug cartels, which have terrorized their communities in the state of Michoacán. The attack sparked an international outcry on behalf of the citizens, who have suffered non-stop brutality at the hands of both government officials and criminal syndicates. News reports, some of which conflict with each other, suggest that around a dozen people were shot and at least four were killed in the massacre, including an 11-year-old girl. A Mexican paper reported that a dozen civilians died in the clash.
Multiple reports and local witnesses said that Mexican forces opened fire on an unarmed crowd, though officials would not confirm that to foreign reporters. Community leaders quoted in press reports said the government was trying to protect cartels. Authorities also claimed not to know exactly how many people had been killed in the clashes, which reportedly began Monday, January 13, when a group of unarmed citizens tried to stop a convoy of heavily armed government functionaries from entering the town of Antunez and disarming residents.
However, journalists and news reports confirmed that there were multiple bodies in the area, and at least several locals reported that their family members had been slain in attacks by government troops. The federal assault came days after local self-defense groups managed to drive out criminal syndicates from more and more towns in the region over the weekend. Spokesmen for local communities said the biggest confrontation involved around 60 to 80 government troops, although hundreds were in the area.
Officials claim they were trying to bring “security” to the region by disarming the civilians, whom they refer to as “vigilantes” for seeking to drive cartels out of their beleaguered communities. Also part of the scheme was enforcing Mexico’s draconian gun-control regime, which critics say violates the human rights of law-abiding Mexicans while contributing heavily to the ongoing reign of terror and murder across much of the nation. “There will be no tolerance for anyone caught with firearms,” decreed Government Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong.
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