At least 15 killed in Tamaulipas street battles amid blockades
Three civilians injured in crossfire
Reynosa, Tamaulipas — At least 15 people died during armed clashes with the Mexican military Tuesday in northern Tamaulipas, state officials reported.
The fatalities came as several blockades sprang up across Reynosa streets, clogging traffic and leading city officials to advise people to avoid the streets for several hours Tuesday morning.
Officials did not say whether they suspect the blockades Tuesday were drug cartel-related. Similar obstructions were reported earlier this month in Monterrey, where suspected drug cartel members have occasionally blocked primary highways that lead to the city in an effort to stop security patrols.
Slain Tuesday were seven armed civilians involved in a clash with Mexican military soldiers near the Pemex installation along the highway to Monterrey, state authorities said. Three other people involved in a gun battle between civilians and the Mexican military in Rio Bravo, according to Tamaulipas state authorities.
In Ciudad Díaz Ordaz, three civililans were injured, reportedly caught in the crossfire of a street shootout, officials said. Another five people were reportedly slain in Valadeces in armed civilian confrontations. Díaz Ordaz is a small community across the Rio Grande from Sullivan City.
Another person was killed during an armed confrontation with troops near the Reynosa airport, state authorities said early Tuesday afternoon; however, they later reported that one civilian had been merely injured in connection with that incident. There was no explanation for the discrepancy between the two reports.
The blockades across Reynosa choked northbound access to the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, which temporarily closed to northbound non-commercial traffic during the widespread disruption across the city, officials said.
Mexican authorities said there were unconfirmed reports of several other street battles across the city, including near Boulevard Morelos, Rio Purificacion, Mexico Highway 2 near the Pharr-Reynosa International Bridge, and Mexico Highway 40, which leads to Monterrey.
Authorities would not confirm other possible casualties among civilians or military personnel.
Photos submitted by a resident in Reynosa showed buses and trucks that were used to block traffic along Boulevard Morelos. Other blockades were reportedly set up along Mexico Highway 40 and Mexico Highway 2, which leads to Matamoros.
Witnesses said gunmen forced drivers to stop and block traffic with their vehicles, Proceso magazine reported on its Web site.
There were other unconfirmed reports of blockades set up Tuesday afternoon in Matamoros.
Reynosa city officials said many routes across the city had been cleared early Tuesday afternoon and that traffic had begun to move normally again.
Pharr Bridge Director Jesse Medina said Mexican officials closed off northbound non-commercial traffic at the bridge about 11 a.m. Tuesday and then allowed all traffic to pass by early afternoon. Blockages still prevented much traffic from entering the bridge.
“No cars are crossing, not because the bridge is closed, I think, but because people are aware that things are going on over there,” Medina said. “We’re hoping that it will clear up, whatever it is.”
A bulletin Reynosa city officials issued about 11 a.m. Tuesday said various points throughout the city, including parts of Boulevard Morelos — a major thoroughfare on the city's east side — were blocked to traffic and that people should avoid driving if possible.
Officials described the blockades as a “situation of risk” and urged people to exercise “extreme caution.”
“I don’t know whether it’s a shootout, a shooting or shots fired or what,” Medina said. “All I know is an incident occurred.”
Medina said Mexican bridge officials told him an incident occurred near the interchange of the bridge access road and Mexican Highway 2 — the east-west thoroughfare that cuts across Reynosa.
McAllen Bridge Director George Ramon said traffic at the Hidalgo and Anzalduas international bridges was not disrupted.