(AA) – At least three soldiers and one police officer were killed Friday in the state of Jalisco during clashes between a gang, police and the army, according to authorities.
The National defense secretary said the soldiers died after gunmen shot down an army helicopter in which they were traveling in Autlan, a city of the south of Jalisco. The chopper was forced to perform an emergency landing that injured 10 other soldiers and two police officers.
The governor of Jalisco has instituted a code red that allows authorities to act quickly in crisis situations.
Jalisco government spokesman Gonzalo Sanchez said a police officer was killed in a separate clash, along with two alleged members of the Jalisco New Generation drug cartel. One civilian was also killed.
The melee was sparked by the recently launched “Jalisco Operation” by Mexico’s armed forces that aims to monitor criminal activity in the state and would have led to the capture of an unidentified cartel leader, he said.
At a press conference, Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval said at least 15 victims had been injured in the clashes.
Hostilities began midmorning with the blockades of road and highways.
Sandoval said the state has detained 15 individuals in connection to 29 roadblocks and attacks on 12 banks and five attacks on gas stations that included robberies.
“These are preliminary numbers,” he said, adding that 19 municipalities have been affected, including the capital of Guadalajara and the resort city of Puerto Vallarta.
The governor called for calm and restraint. “The citizens must remain calm and must not relay information that is not verified and accurate,” he warned.
The Jalisco New Generation is one of the most recent and fastest-growing criminal organizations in Mexico.
Its members are currently fighting against the Zetas cartel for control of Guadalajara, the capital of Jalisco and Mexico’s second city.