May 7, 2011 in Nation/World

Cartel gunmen attack army convoy

E. Eduardo Castillo Associated Press

MEXICO CITY – Mexico sent hundreds of soldiers and federal police to a drug-violence plagued northern region Friday, the same day cartel gunmen fired on a military convoy with a grenade launcher and hit a bus carrying employees of a U.S.-owned assembly plant.

The attack on the army convoy underscored the growing boldness of Mexico’s drug cartels.

The army said attackers believed to be working for the Zetas cartel opened fire on the army vehicles with guns and a grenade launcher from a highway overpass on the outskirts of the northern city of Monterrey. One soldier and five people in passing vehicles were wounded, and one attacker was killed, the Defense Department said.

The statement said the bus hit in the attack was transporting employees of the Montoi company, a branch of U.S.-based toy maker Mattel Inc. It was not clear if company employees were among the injured.

As the attackers fled in several vehicles, soldiers pursued and killed one suspect and captured two others, one of them a woman who was wounded in the gunfight, the military said.

The army said it found grenades, guns and hats with the letter “Z” – the Zetas symbol – at the scene as well as people who had apparently been kidnapped by the gang.

In a response to stepped-up cartel violence in northern Mexico, the government sent additional forces to the Comarca Lagunera region that straddles Coahuila and Durango states, to the west of Monterrey, the Interior Department said.

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