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Mexico City (AFP) Jan 3, 2013
Mexican soldiers killed 12 suspected criminals in a running gun battle across the central state of Zacatecas on Wednesday, an official said.
The clash erupted when the two sides ran into each other in the city of Rio Grande, sparking a pursuit along 50 kilometers (31 miles) that ended in the town of Sombrerete, the state official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The official said the death toll may be higher. Defense Ministry officials were not immediately available for comment.
Zacatecas has not been spared from the drug violence afflicting Mexico that has left at least 70,000 people dead across the country since 2006, when troops were deployed to battle cartels.
Earlier, the navy said marines had detained 18 people, including 12 minors and a woman holding a baby, on New Year's Eve in the Zacatecas town of La Estacion San Jose.
The marines seized a cache of weapons, including two grenade launchers, and bags of cocaine and marijuana from the group.
Mexican marines detain gang with drugs, guns and baby
The group was arrested on New Year's Eve in the town of La Estacion San Jose, in the state of Zacatecas, the navy said in a statement. The gang included a woman who was holding a baby girl in her arms.
Authorities seized nine rifles, two smaller guns, two grenade launchers and several bags of cocaine and marijuana during the operation.
Elsewhere, authorities discovered the bullet-riddled bodies of four men and a 17-year-old boy early Wednesday in an abandoned vehicle in the northern state of Chihuahua, the prosecutor's office told local media.
At least 70,000 people have died in drug-related violence since 2006, when troops were deployed to battle drug cartels, according to the new government, which took over in December.
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