By Chris Covert
The death toll in the fighting in Choix municipality in Sinaloa state increased as seven more dead were found Wednesday morning, according to Mexican news accounts.
The seven dead were found near the Chihuahua border, and according to a news item on the website of El Debate news daily, villagers in the area say more dead could be found in the area.
In a late Wednesday evening story posted on its website, El Diario de Juarez reported that residents on both sides of the border have fled their homes to keep armed groups from attacking them. Criminal gangs in the area are running low on food and water, and while reports on other Mexican news websites say some residents are fighting back, those stories appear to be anecdotal and not widespread.
Mexico is currently undergoing one of the worst droughts in decades, so water is at a premium and is being preserved in remote mountain communities for human consumption. Temperatures in the Mexican Sierras have also soared since last week, hitting 46C (114.8F) in western Chihuahua.
A separate article posted on the website of El Debate Wednesday evening said that fighting has spread to Guasave municipality as armed suspects exchanged gunfire with a Mexican Army road patrol in Estacion Bamoa. A total of 10 armed suspects and two soldiers died in that encounter. Guasave municipality is about 60 kilometers south of Choix and is near the western coast of Sinaloa state.
The report also said that five more unidentified individuals were killed or were found dead, including in Culican municipality, where three unidentified individuals were found dead including one man who had been immolated.
Two more unidentified individuals were found dead near the village of Cajon de Piaxtla in nearby San Ignacio municipality.
The seven dead in Choix municipality raises the death toll after five days of fighting to 39 dead. The dead in Guasave and San Ignacio municipalities, although not specifically part of the fighting in Choix municipality raises the death toll in Sinaloa state since last Saturday to 56, easily one of the bloodiest weeks in the Mexican Drug War which began in 2007.
According to a news item posted on Noreste.com news daily website Wednesday evening, at around 0600 hrs a Mexican Army road patrolin Guasave encountered an armed group aboard three vehicles near a local hotel and supermarket on Calle Benito Juarez, who opened fire on the unit. Two soldiers were killed near the hotel. while three armed suspects were killed aboard an SUV which was destroyed by fire. Two vehicles and weapons were seized in the aftermath.
According to an item on the El Debate website, schools were closed in Guasave following the encounter.
Also according to another news item on the same website, Guasave municipal police agents reportedly started a labor action after several of their number were disarmed and 13 were detained in the aftermath of the encounter. The police agents were disarmed by Sinaloa state ministerial police at the orders of the Mexican Federal Public ministry. A scuffle also ensued near police headquarters between municipal police agents and state ministerial police.
El Imparcial news daily, in a Wednesday evening post at its news website said that last January, Guasave police commander, Leocadio Cabrera Delgado and 32 other municipal police officers were detained and the subsequently detained for investugation.In that incident three Mexican Army soldiers were killed in a gunfight, but the police elements in Guasave had refused to respond at the request of the army.
Chris Covert writes Mexican Drug War and national political news for Rantburg.com