First they said that they were killed by gunmen, then it was that they were killed by Mexican troops and they were sorry, and now they say they were killed by criminals afterall.
A joint investigation by Mexican military and civilian prosecutors concluded that drug-cartel gunmen, not soldiers, were responsible for the deaths of two children during a confrontation in the northern state of Tamaulipas, officials said here Friday.
The youngsters were killed April 3 on the road linking the towns of Nueva Ciudad Guerrero and Ciudad Mier, where a family of 13 traveling in an SUV was caught in a crossfire between troops and gunmen.
Bryan and Martin Almanza Salazar, ages 5 and 9, were killed and seven other family members wounded. The survivors blamed the military, saying that the troops opened fire without provocation.
The SUV in which the family was travelling on during the attack. The impacts from bullets and grende can be seen on the rear of he vehicle.
At a press briefing Friday in Mexico City, the chief military prosecutor, Gen. Jose Luis Chavez Garcia, said the soldiers went to the road in Tamaulipas based on an anonymous tip about a battle between rival criminal groups.
Finding six bullet-riddled SUVs abandoned at the scene, the troops continued down the road until they encountered a convoy of seven SUVs traveling in the opposite direction, whose occupants opened fire on the soldiers.
Four of the seven SUVs fled and the Almanza Salazar family’s vehicle ended up between two other vehicles carrying gunmen, Gen. Chavez said.
Autopsies determined the two children were killed by shrapnel from a launcher-propelled 40 mm grenade that struck the back of the family’s vehicle, a type of munition the Mexican army doesn’t use, according to Chavez.
He acknowledged, however, that some of the rounds fired by the soldiers did hit the Almanza Salazar vehicle.
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The soldiers killed my children: Cynthia Salazar.
The mother of the two children who lost their lives in Tamaulipas, Cynthia Salazar, disputed the version released by the Ministry of National Defense (SEDENA) in the claim that her sons were killed from grenades
"Bryan died from impacts of bullets, not grenades, and things did not happen like they say," she denounced the version from the military.
In a radio interview she said: "I am 100% sure that it was the soldiers who attacked my family."
Yesterday morning the Attorney General of Military Justice, Jose Luis Chavez Garcia, said that according to a report from the military the children were killed by "shrapnel from grenades that are not used by the Army."
However, Mrs. Salazar insisted that "Bryan died of impacts from bullets. He died while in my arms when I got off the truck."
After her interview, the family lawyer, Raymundo Ramos, said he will reach out to the international community if necessary, and invited President Felipe Calderón to attend a town hall meeting in Tamaulipas like he did in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, following the massacre of 16 teenagers in Villas de Salvácar.
I another development the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today announced that the reports and opinions submitted by the military will be compared with their own investigations.
This was announced by the representative of NHRC, Raul Plascencia, while presiding over a press conference in Culiacán based on a report from the work of the state ombudsman, Juan José Ríos Estavillo.
Plascencia reminded everyone that in 2009 the military received the highest number of complaints with a total of 30 cases and the worst is that the military forces continue with these practices.