Eleven killed in Mexico 'gang shootout'

image captionThe army has taken a leading role in Mexico's war on drugs

Eleven people have been killed in a gun battle between a criminal gang and the army, authorities in south-western Mexico say.

Troops were patrolling the streets of a small town in Guerrero state when they were attacked by a heavily armed group.

The gang sought refuge inside a church, where the shoot out continued. Ten alleged criminals and one soldier were killed in the confrontation.

The clashes happened early on Wednesday in the town of Tepecoacuilco.

The bodies of nine men and a woman killed by Mexican troops have been taken to a mortuary in a nearby city.

Twelve weapons were found with the group, including five AK-47 and five AR-15 assault rifles.

There is no indication that the alleged criminals were associated to any of Mexico's powerful drug gangs.

But Guerrero state has been one of the worst hit by the violence that has killed more than 55,000 people since President Felipe Calderon launched a war on the drug cartels in 2006.

More than 7,000 troops and federal police were deployed there last year.

The state's largest city is the world-famous seaside resort of Acapulco, where the tourism industry has suffered due to violence.

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