An armed confrontation between Mexican marines and an unknown group in northeast Mexico has led to the death of six persons, three of them members of a single family.
According to report Nallely Aide Ruiz, 28, and her two daughters - aged four and six - were heading home when they were caught in the crossfire between members of the Mexican Navy and an armed group near the city of Nuevo Laredo in the state of Tamaulipas.
Initial reports stated that the bullets, which killed Ruiz and her daughters, came from a Navy helicopter. However, a release from the Mexican Navy, claims that an analysis of the caliber of bullets responsible for their deaths showed that law enforcement officials did not fire them. The statement further argued that it was evident members of the armed group, killed Ruiz and her daughters.
“Under no circumstance the use of force by this institution personnel was excessive,” the Navy press release said. It added: “The gunshots the civilians received were the result of the on-ground crossfire and didn't come from the air. Also, the shots caliber found in the vehicle doesn't match those of the weapons used by Mexican Navy aircraft.”
However, some reports have contradicted the claims of Mexican authorities. They claim that the shots, which killed members of the family and wounded others, were fired from the helicopter on its first approach to the scene and it was only upon their second approach the Marines realized that the occupants of the car were civilians. These reports also claim that the Ruiz's husband, who was injured in the incident, was denied medical attention by officials.
Some of the eyewitness reports were corroborated by Ruiz's niece, who was with the family at the time of the attack. According to Spanish news outlet, Ruiz's niece called her mother at 1 a.m., shortly after the incident took place, asking for "help."
In their original report, from the scene, officials also allegedly failed to mention that the members of the family, including two girls, had died during the clashes, saying only that “civilians” had been killed in the crossfire.
Mexico's General Prosecutor office has published a report stating that the family had been shot with a 223 caliber, which corresponds to the weapons seized from the cartel.
Officials also dent claims of negligence and said the father of the girls was taken to a hospital where he is currently warded in serious condition.
“The Navy personnel provided the necessary medical attention in the incident area to those who were injured.”
The clashes started as marines were ambushed by an armed convoy in Nuevo Laredo City. As more marines arrived at the scene to help their injured fellow marines, another convoy came by and attacked them, killing a marine and wounding six more.
The local police say the aggressors are part of the Gulf Cartel, while federal sources say it was the Northeast cartel headed by Juan Gerardo Treviño Chavez, who was born in Texas and is known as “El Huevo.” Treviño Chavez is also the nephew of Miguel Angel Treviño Morales “El Z-40,” one of the leaders of the “Los Zetas” criminal organization who is waiting for extradition into the United States.