Nuevo Laredo quagmire flares with Federalis in gunfight

AP/Houston Chronicle:

More than 50 federal agents battled alleged drug traffickers in a shootout in the border city of Nuevo Laredo, officials said today, the latest incident in a wave of violence that has sparked criticism from the U.S. government.

Several people were killed in the gunbattle late Friday, said a spokeswoman with the federal attorney general's office. She could not confirm the number and requested anonymity because the agency was waiting to issue a formal statement on the incident.

Officers with the Federal Preventative Police were involved in the shootout, which lasted 40 minutes, according to an official with the agency who also requested anonymity.

On Saturday morning, federal agents in ski masks and body armor and six military Humvees packed with soldiers sealed off the scene of the shootout and refused to let journalists enter.

The soldiers refused to comment or confirm if they had been involved in the shooting.

Residents said they had heard constant gun fire and some shots sounded like they could have come from military-caliber weapons. Several houses on the edge of the scene were riddled with bullet holes.

...

Perhaps the Mexican government decided to try to take back the city. It has been under the control of drug dealers for several months and local authorities have abandoned the fight after suffering several casualties.

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