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Mexican Vice Admiral Ambushed, Killed In Drug War Hot Spot

posted 29 Jul 2013, 13:25 by Mpelembe   [ updated 29 Jul 2013, 13:25 ]

Authorities in Mexico vow to restore law and order in violence-ravaged Michoacanstate after suspected members of the notorious Knights Templar cartel attack a senior military commander in a brazen ambush.

MEXICO CITYMEXICO (JULY 29, 2013) (REUTERS) -  A Mexican vice admiral was killed on Sunday (July 28) in an ambush on a rural road in the western state of Michoacan, where President Enrique Pena Nietohas sent military forces to regain control of areas dominated by warring drug gangs.

Assailants armed with high-calibre rifles killed Vice Admiral Carlos Salazar, who commanded the naval base at the Pacific beach resort of Puerto Vallarta, along with another officer, the navy said in a statement.

The men were attacked after they were diverted onto a country road from a major highway running between the state capital of Michoacan and Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco state that is home to Puerto Vallarta.

At a news conference on Monday (July 29), Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said three suspects behind the brazen attack have been detained and are believed to be members of the notorious Knights Templar cartel.

"Thanks to an operational alert from Mexican forces we have identified the white vehicle and in it three individuals who have confessed to being part of, or at least one of the people to be in the vehicles that sneakily killed the commander of Zona Noval. They declared they were a part of a criminal group, a group of criminals known as the Knights Templar," he said.

The drug-ravaged state of Michoacan has seen a surge of protests and armed vigilante groups that have risen up this year, claiming authorities are failing to stop gang violence and extortion.

President Enrique Pena Nieto on Monday (July 29) said the attack has strengthened the resolve of the government to restore order in the same state were his predecessor Felipe Calderon launched his military campaign against drug gangs.

Hundreds of federal troops have poured into Michoacan since last week, joining forces that Pena Nieto has deployed there. In May, he put a general in charge of all police and military operations in the state.

Pena Nieto took office in December promising to reduce violent crime after Calderon spent six years struggling to contain rampant drug-related violence that has claimed more than 70,000 lives since 2007.