Gunmen kill Mormon family members in north Mexico
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[November 05, 2019]
By Lizbeth Diaz
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Gunmen have killed
up to nine members of a U.S. Mormon family, believed to be mainly
children, in the latest massacre to afflict Mexico, family members said.
The victims belonged to the LeBaron family from a breakaway Mormon
community that settled in the hills and plains of northern Mexico
Two relatives Alex and Julian LeBaron told Reuters nine people had died,
though a government source only confirmed five.
It was unclear what motivated the killings, which took place on Monday
on a dirt road between Chihuahua and Sonora states, both bordering the
A video posted on social media showed the charred and smoking remains of
a vehicle riddled with bullet holes that was apparently carrying the
victims when the attack happened.
"This is for the record," says a male voice in an American accent, off
camera, choking up with emotion.
"Nita and four of my grandchildren are burnt and shot up."
Reuters could not independently verify the video.
Mexico has been hit by a wave of attacks in recent weeks, shocking even
for a country inured to a decade of drug war violence. The most notable
incident was a military-style cartel assault that forced the government
to release a leader of the Sinaloa Cartel in October.
Given U.S. citizens were killed on Monday, the incident may increase
pressure from Washington on President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to
rein in armed groups. There was no immediate indication of who was
behind the attack.
"WE DON'T KNOW WHO DID IT"
Chihuahua and Sonora state governments issued a joint statement saying
an investigation had been launched and that some people were presumed
dead and others missing.
The statement noted additional federal and local security forces were
being sent into the area near the border between the two Mexican states,
but did not provide further details.
Julian LeBaron described the incident as a "massacre," saying some
family members were burnt alive. In a text message, he said other
injured members of the family were being transported to Phoenix, Arizona
He said four boys, two girls and three women were killed.
"We don't know why, though they had received indirect threats. We don't
know who did it," he said.
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The burnt wreckage of a vehicle transporting a Mormon family living
near the border with the U.S. is seen, after the family was caught
in a crossfire between unknown gunmen from rival cartels, in Bavispe,
Sonora, Mexico November 4, 2019, in this picture obtained from
social media. Mandatory credit KENNETH MILLER/LAFE LANGFORD JR/via
Several children who fled the attack were lost for hours in the
countryside before being found, Julian LeBaron added.
"My cousin was murdered with her children in the truck," Alex
LeBaron said, adding he believed nine people died.
In 2010, two members of the Chihuahua Mormon community, including
one from the LeBaron family, were killed in apparent revenge after
security forces tracked drug gang members. The Mormons had suffered
widespread kidnappings before that.
Mormons of Germanic origin settled in northern Mexico in the 1920s
from the United States. The group broke away from the mainstream
Mormon church when it abandoned polygamous marriages.
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Christopher Landau, who traveled to Sonora
earlier on Monday for unrelated work meetings, said he was following
the incident closely.
"The security of our co-nationals is our great priority," he said on
The U.S. embassy in Mexico did not immediately respond to a request
for more information after hours.
(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Additional reporting by David Alire
Garcia; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Andrew Cawthorne)
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