Mexican Military Clashes with Self Defense Groups During Rescue of Captured Soldiers

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AP File Photo/Eduardo Verdugo

Mexican soldiers clashed with a self-defense group in a rural town in southern Mexico during an effort to rescue several soldiers held by villagers. The clash resulted in the death of a 12-year-old and injuries to four other villagers, including two children.

The clash took place this week in the rural community of Santa Maria Ostula in the Mexican state of Michoacán, Mexico’s Proceso magazine reported.

The villagers in that town had captured close to 100 soldiers and held them in an effort to establish a dialogue with Mexican authorities as to the release of self-defense group leader Semei Verdia.

Mexican authorities had captured Verdia. They accused him of possessing various weapons restricted for military use, including two AK-47s as well as a handgun and other weapons, a news release from Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office revealed.

After the capture of their leader, the villagers took to the streets and captured the soldiers. Rather than agree to a dialogue, the Mexican military deployed a large contingent of soldiers who stormed the town and clashed with the villagers. They ultimately rescued their comrades.

The clash resulted in the death of 12-year-old Heliberto Reyes Garcia.

In the southern parts of Mexico, the out of control violence on the part of cartels such as the Knights Templars has led to villagers from various towns taking up arms in an effort to protect their families.

The general sentiment often described by these groups is that the Mexican government won’t protect them from the drug cartels. According to various news outlets in Mexico, self-defense groups have popped up in various states, but they are often met with a swift response from Mexican authorities who push to disarm them rather than work with them to fight the cartels.

The most famous case of the government going after self-defense groups has been the case of Jose Mireles, a small-town doctor who ended up taking arms and leading a group to run out the Knights Templars from his village.

Soon the group gained international fame but the government pushed to disarm them. Mireles currently sits in a Mexican prison on weapons charges.

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