MEXICO CITY (AFP) – Mexico’s army pledged Friday to cooperate in an investigation into the deaths of 21 gang suspects after a witness claimed that soldiers executed them, contradicting official reports they died in a shootout.
The defence ministry said in a statement that it would offer its “unrestricted collaboration to the appropriate authorities to shed light on the facts.”
“This entity is the most interested in seeing this incident thoroughly investigated,” it said.
The US State Department, whose government has provided more than $1 billion in training and equipment to Mexico’s security forces in the drug war, called for a “credible review” to be conducted by civilian authorities.
The Latin America edition of US magazine Esquire reported this week that it had interviewed a woman who saw the soldiers kill the suspects after they surrendered following a shootout.
In a statement following the June 30 skirmish, the defence ministry said the drug gang suspects shot first from a warehouse while the soldiers were on a night patrol in the town of Tlatlaya, 240 kilometres (150 miles) southwest of Mexico City.
The statement said 21 men and one woman were killed and a soldier was injured in a gunfight, and that three women who presented themselves as kidnap victims were rescued. Esquire said the witness is one of the three women but she denies she was kidnapped. The woman said only one person was killed during the shootout, while the 21 others were executed after they were interrogated, the magazine reported.