Mexico's army has killed 22 alleged members of the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, a cartel splinter group causing chaos in southern Mexico, which may have provoked the military a step too far.
According to the official version of events, in the early hours of June 30 an army patrol came across a group of armed men guarding a property near the borders between the states of Mexico (abbreviated in Mexico as Edomex), Guerrero and Michoacan.
When soldiers approached to search the premises, the men opened fire, and the army responded, killing 21 men and 1 woman, reported Milenio. One soldier received a minor injury in the raid.
Security forces seized 38 guns, including 16 AK-47s, a grenade and munitions at the site, which officials believe was a drug laboratory. Security forces also rescued three kidnapping victims during the operation.
Authorities identified the dead "aggressors" as members of the Guerreros Unidos criminal organization.
InSight Crime Analysis
The Guerreros Unidos is one of several splinter groups to emerge from the breakup of the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO). Since 2011, they have been competing for control of criminal operations in Guerrero, Edomex, and Morelos.
In recent times, their dispute with another BLO splinter group, the Rojos, has fuelled violence in the region, helping turn Guerrero and Morelos into two of Mexico's principal drug war battle grounds and bringing violence to the previously relatively peaceful State of Mexico.
SEE ALSO: Beltran Leyva Organization Profile
The fighting has made the Guerreros Unidos a principal target of security forces operations in recent months, and the group has clashed with security forces, according to El Pais.
Still, the assault this week raises worrying questions over how these operations are being carried out by the military, and how the government is providing oversight of their actions. The property was guarded by 22 heavily armed people, and the military killed all of the alleged criminals while only suffering one minor casualty. Human rights groups have already raised the specter that the military is engaging in extrajudicial killings and later manipulating the crime scenes. This may be another case that needs further probing.