Image by AP

The shootout erupted around mid-day on Saturday in Villa Union, a town of about 3000 residents, near the US border, and just days after US President Donald Trump “raised bilateral tensions by saying he would designate the gangs as terrorists”.

“The government of the northern state of Coahuila said state police confronted a group of heavily armed gunmen riding in pickup trucks through the town which is less than 50 miles from the US border. San Antonio, Texas, to the northeast, is about 3 1/2 hours away,” the report said.

“Villa Union City Hall is riddled with bullet holes after a gun battle between Mexican security forces and suspected cartel gunmen on Saturday.”

State Governor Miguel Riquelme Solis said: “At least 14 people were killed, four of them police officers, after an armed group in a convoy of trucks stormed the town in Coahuila state, prompting security forces to intervene.”

A suspected cartel vehicle is show on the streets of Villa Union after the hour-long shootout, Image by AP

According to the report: “No explanation has been offered for the violence.

“In addition to the four cops who were killed, six officers were also left injured.”

The fighting went on for more than an hour.

“Bullets began spraying Villa Union when a convoy of vehicles showed up in town, as seen in video clips posted on social media of the battle. Plumes of smoke also could be seen rising above the town.

“Bullet holes were everywhere in Villa Union, where an untold number of people were missing after the hour-long violence

Reuters could not confirm the authenticity of the images.

“Meanwhile, an unspecified number of people were also missing, including some who were at the mayor’s office.

“There were at least 14 vehicles involved in the attack, and more than a dozen guns were seized.

“Among the missing were people who were believed to have been in the mayor’s office when the town was sprayed with bullets

“The governor said he believed the gunmen were members of the Cartel of the Northeast, which is from Tamaulipas state to the east.

“The violence broke out after Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Friday said he would not accept any foreign intervention in Mexico to deal with violent criminal gangs after Trump’s comments.

“Trump on Tuesday said he planned to designate the cartels as terrorist organizations, sparking concerns the move could serve as a prelude to the US trying to intervene unilaterally in Mexico.

“US Attorney General William Barr is due to visit Mexico in the coming days to discuss cooperation over security.

“A series of recent security lapses has raised questions about the left-leaning administration’s strategy,” the report added.