Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico bodies may be drug gang victims, police say

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Media captionThe BBC's Will Grant says the murders are probably the result of an ongoing drug war in the Mexican state of Michoacan

Mexican police found 15 bodies piled up at a petrol station in the western state of Michoacan, authorities say.

Three youths were among the dead and all the bodies showed signs of torture.

Threatening messages had been left next to the bodies, indicating that the killing might have been a settling of scores between gangs, officials said.

Michoacan is at the centre of a violent battle between the La Familia cartel and a rival offshoot of the gang, which calls itself the Knights Templar.

The bodies, all of them male, were found in the early hours of the morning at a petrol station in the town of Zitacuaro.

Initially, authorities had reported 13 victims but the Mexican Interior Ministry later said 15 people had been killed.

Police said the victims had bullet wounds to their heads.

Michoacan has seen a rise in violence blamed on the break-up of the area's powerful cartel, La Familia Michoacana.

Officials say the killing by the security forces in December 2010 of the gang's leader, Nazario Moreno, has severely weakened La Familia.

But analysts say the Knights Templar, which split off from La Familia, has taken over many of the cartel's operations and now runs much of the methamphetamine production and trafficking in the west of Mexico.

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