September 13, 2017 / 10:11 PM / 2 years ago

13 killed in gang battles in two Mexican states

Police officers stand guard as they carry out inspections at a checkpoint after 13 people were killed in battles between rival gangs in two states in central and western Mexico, in Uruapan, in the state of Michoacan, Mexico, September 13, 2017. REUTERS/Alan Ortega

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - At least 13 people were killed in battles between rival gangs in two states in central and western Mexico, officials said on Wednesday, as murders climb to record levels this year.

Five people were gunned down in a bar on Tuesday night in the capital of central Guanajuato state while seven people were found dead in two different places in the western state of Michoacan, according to officials at state prosecutors offices.

Three dismembered bodies, including a woman’s, were found in the community of Angahuan near the drug-gang hotbed of Uruapan, the Michoacan prosecutors’ office said.

Michoacan has been one of the bloodiest states in Mexico because of battles between rival gangs involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping, extortion of local businesses as well as mineral theft and illegal logging.

Neighboring Guanajuato state has seen a spike in violence. Murders were up 37 percent in Guanajuato in the first seven months of the year compared to the same period last year.

The murder rate has already risen above levels seen in 2011, which was the deadliest year under former president Felipe Calderon who sent the army out to battle drug gangs.

Nationally, there were 14,190 murder investigations in the first seven months of the year, the highest total through July for any year in records going back to 1997.

The increase in violence has hit the popularity of President Enrique Pena Nieto and his Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) ahead of next year’s presidential election.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Sandra Maler

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