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Page last updated at 01:30 GMT, Saturday, 19 April 2008 02:30 UK

Eleven killed in Mexico air crash

Police and army personnel cordon off the site where a military helicopter crashed near Uruapan, Mexico, on 18 Friday 2008
Michoacan is a key battleground in the government's war on the drug trade

Eleven Mexican soldiers have been killed in a helicopter crash during anti-drug operations in the western state of Michoacan.

The Bell 212 helicopter went down around midday (1800 BST) near Uruapan. Eyewitnesses said they heard the engine cut out as it tried to land.

Police have cordoned off the crash site and forensic officers are sifting through the wreckage.

Michoacan is a major flashpoint in the government's war against drug cartels.

"There are 11 men dead, including a colonel, and one soldier was injured," said a spokesman for the state attorney general's office.

"The motor stopped and the helicopter plummeted to the ground," said local resident Agustin Vargas.

Drug-related violence has become a serious issue across Mexico and since taking office in December 2006, President Felipe Calderon has sent some 25,000 soldiers and federal police to key areas to tackle the drug traffickers.

Michoacan's hills and avocado fields are said to hide methamphetamine, or "crystal meth" labs, and landing strips for planes moving cocaine to the United States.




SEE ALSO
Country profile: Mexico
01 Apr 08 |  Country profiles
Mexico captures 'key drug lord'
13 Mar 08 |  Americas
Mexico in record cocaine seizure
02 Nov 07 |  Americas
Nine bodies found in Mexico grave
06 Jan 07 |  Americas

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