The soldiers from the 43rd Military Zone were on patrol in an area where drug violence has displaced more than 800 residents from rural communities near Apatzingan. The truck they were riding in went over a land mine on a dirt road between Las Bateas and El Tepetate, the regional Observatory for Human Security reported.
The nonprofit – which monitors public safety in a state plagued by drug violence involving the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) and local gangs including Carteles Unidos, Los Viagras, Familia Michoacana and Templar Knights – said four soldiers were hospitalized with serious injuries and four were treated and released on Sunday.
The group said residents displaced from the farming communities of Llano Grande, Las Bateas and El Tepetate were sheltered at the Presa del Rosario Catholic parish near Apatzingan on Sunday. They were fed, attended a Mass and were given nonperishable baskets of food during a Father’s Day celebration, the Observatory reported.
Later on Sunday, “a general from the 12th Military Region and a colonel from the 30th Infantry Battalion arrived in four military vehicles each with a squad of soldiers. They talked to the priest, the mayor and representatives of the displaced persons,” the group said in a statement.
The newly arrived soldiers advanced on the towns without resistance and found that homes were broken into and looted in Llano Grande and El Tepetate; the Catholic churches there also were broken into, the Observatory said.
Mexican news media last week aired photos and videos showing people fleeing those communities and Mexican soldiers lining the highway where the people walked. Families with children can be seen under a blue tarp on the side of the road, some of them just looking down at the ground. The reports said a June 9 gun battle between unidentified rival drug gangs set off the exodus.
The army plans to establish a temporary base in the region to prevent further drug violence. The Mexican child and family services agency (DIF) plans regular visits to the homes of displaced residents once they return home to render psychological support, the Observatory reported.