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Human rights probe killings in 2 Mexican states

July 20, 2015

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Investigators from Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission fanned out to two states Monday to investigate killings in which federal troops may have been involved.

On Sunday, the Mexican army’s 11th Military Zone announced in a statement that its military justice arm had found indications that soldiers were involved in the disappearance of seven people on July 7 in Calera, Zacatecas. The army said it would pass on its findings to the Mexican attorney general’s office and continue investigating to determine if military discipline is merited.

One day earlier, the army announced it was opening an investigation after complaints and banners accused soldiers of involvement in the disappearances. Seven bodies were reportedly found last week elsewhere in Zacatecas. It remained unclear whether they were the same people who had disappeared.

The Zacatecas state attorney general’s office did not immediately return calls for comment Monday. A woman reached at the federal attorney general’s office in Zacatecas said the agency had no comment.

Also Sunday, a 12-year-old boy was killed when an armed group opened fire on a crowd of protesters in the western state of Michoacan.

The Michoacan coordinated security group of federal forces said the crowd was protesting the arrest of a local vigilante leader Sunday when armed men began shooting. It gave no other details. A statement released early Monday promised to find those responsible.

Witnesses said federal forces opened fire when a group tried to block the highway to protest the detention of Cemei Verdia, a self-defense leader in the Aquila municipality. Verdia was detained earlier Sunday and accused of arms possession.

Michoacan citizens rose up in 2013 against the Knights Templar cartel, which then controlled the state. Most of the vigilantes later disarmed or became rural police, but some self-defense groups persist, saying they still have no government protection from organized crime.

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