Death toll put at 20 for Mexico cartel attack near US border

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican security forces on Sunday killed seven more members of a presumed cartel assault force that rolled into a town near the Texas border and staged an hour-long attack, officials said, putting the overall death toll at 20.

The Coahuila state government said in a statement that lawmen aided by helicopters were still chasing remnants of the force that arrived in a convoy of pickup trucks and attacked the city hall of Villa Union on Saturday.

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Gov. Miguel Angel Riquelme said late Sunday afternoon that authorities had determined the casualty count from the gunbattles stood at 14 gunmen dead and four police officers killed. He said two civilians also were slain by gunmen after being abducted.

The governor said six more officers were wounded as were four young people who had been taken by the attackers.

Francisco Contreras, an official in the state security agency, said later that the two slain civilians were a firefighter and an engineer who worked for the municipality. He said a second firefighter was missing.

The reason for the military-style attack remained unclear. Cartels have been contending for control of smuggling routes in northern Mexico, but there was no immediate evidence that a rival cartel had been targeted in Villa Union.

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Earlier Sunday, the state government had issued a statement saying seven attackers were killed Sunday in addition to seven who died Saturday. It had said three other bodies had not been identified, but its later statement lowered the total deaths to 20.

The governor said the armed group — at least some in military style garb — stormed the town of 3,000 residents in a convoy of trucks, attacking local government offices and prompting state and federal forces to intervene.

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