(great use of the word "spat", isn't it?)
Drunken spat leaves 6 dead south of Nuevo LaredoMEXICO CITY — Six men were confirmed dead Friday after a gunbattle between state police and presumed Mexican army soldiers along an 80-mile stretch of desert highway south of Nuevo Laredo.
Three state police officers, two men reported to be active-duty soldiers and a civilian were killed.
The clash began about 10:30 p.m. Thursday when two men in army uniforms stole a pickup, then abducted and killed a man in Lampazos, about midway between Monterrey and the U.S.-Mexico border, according to Monterrey newspaper El Norte.
Stealing another vehicle, the two fled south on a highway toward Monterrey. State police intercepted them near the town of Villaldama, igniting a shootout that left one police officer dead and another fatally wounded.
The uniformed assailants then stole the patrol car of the fallen officers and continued fleeing south. Tracking the vehicle by its global positioning system, state and municipal police caught up with the men near Salinas Victoria, on the northern outskirts of Monterrey.
In a second shootout, the two suspected soldiers and another state police agent were killed.
Authorities didn't immediately offer a motive for the original abduction and killing. El Norte quoted an unidentified source as confirming at least one man as an active duty soldier.
Nuevo León state prosecutor Luis Carlos Treviño confirmed news accounts of the shootout at a Friday news conference in Monterrey. He said violence appeared to be sparked by a drunken argument between the soldiers and the murdered civilian.
An autopsy indicated a high level of alcohol in the assailants' bloodstreams, he said.
There was no immediate indication the killings were linked to the region's ubiquitous narcotics trafficking, Treviño said. The military had no immediate comment.