A series of gun battles in a Mexican city along the border with Texas has led to a special alert. The mayor is calling on residents to take shelter and not leave their homes. As Shannon Young reports, there are fears of more violence to come.

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Mayor Leticia Salazar of Matamoros, Tamaulipas – a manufacturing hub across the border from Brownsville, Texas – has issued a general alert to the city’s population, urging residents to stay indoors ahead of possible street battles involving rival criminal groups and state forces.

To issue the warning, Mayor Salazar gave multiple interviews to local and national media Monday – an unprecedented step in a state which has become infamous for its official strategy of ignoring, understating, or even denying drug war related violence that has been raging there for nearly four years.

The alert comes on the heels of three separate shootouts Sunday which killed at least 13 people. Monday morning the 70 year old mother of the state’s Secretary of Economic Development and Tourism was found tied up and murdered inside of her Matamoros home.

Ongoing violence erupted in Tamaulipas in early 2010 when the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel. Local sources attribute the latest shootouts in Matamoros to internal fighting between Gulf Cartel rival factions.

The US Consulate echoed the mayor’s alert via its Twitter account and the Matamoros campus of the state university called off academic activities scheduled for Tuesday. In the meantime, many of the city’s residents are monitoring social media sites like Twitter, which over the years have become the most reliable source of real time information about security threats in the Mexican border state of Tamaulipas.

(Long version of transcript of news spot produced for the November 5, 2013 broadcast of the CBC’s World Report. Audio of final report above.)

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