At least 11 people were killed by an armed gang on Thursday in the Mexican Gulf coast state of Veracruz, where drug-related violence flared this autumn, before five gunmen were shot dead by security forces.
A spokeswoman for the state government told local television the gunmen killed four people in the small town of El Higo then attacked three buses on a highway about 60 miles southwest of the port of Tampico, killing seven others.
Five armed men were killed in a shootout with 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 people have been killed since President Felipe Calderon launched a war on drug cartels in late 2006.