MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - At least 16 people were killed after a gang of armed men began shooting in the state of Veracruz on Mexico's Gulf coast on Thursday morning.
A spokeswoman for the state government told local television the gunmen first killed four people in the small town of El Higo early on Thursday. Afterwards the group attacked three buses on a highway about 60 miles southwest of the port of Tampico, killing seven others.
Five armed men were then killed after a shootout with Mexican security forces, the spokeswoman said.
Mexican authorities in October blamed a surge of killings in the city of Veracruz - some 300 miles south of Tampico - on a group linked to the country's most powerful drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman.
Guzman has been fighting a turf war with the violent Zetas cartel, which authorities say controls Veracruz.
More than 45,000 lives have been lost since President Felipe Calderon launched a war on drug cartels in late 2006.
(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez, writing by Elinor Comlay)