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7 killed in Mexico shootouts

A protester against drug violence plays dead at a Mexico City monument earlier this month.
A protester against drug violence plays dead at a Mexico City monument earlier this month.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Firefights have been going on for 10 days, residents say
  • One Mexico soldier among the dead
  • Drug suspects ambushed military patrol
  • U.S. closed nearby consulate on Thursday
RELATED TOPICS
  • Mexico
  • Illegal Drugs
  • Reynosa

Mexico City, Mexico (CNN) -- Shootouts between drug suspects and the military in the Mexican northeastern border state of Tamaulipas have left seven dead and 11 wounded, the government reported.

One of the dead and the 11 wounded were Mexican military who were ambushed while on patrol late Thursday night in the cities of Miguel Aleman, Mier and Valadeces, the Notimex news agency reported, citing the nation's National Defense Department. The cities are along the U.S. border, near McAllen, Texas.

The cities also are near Reynosa, Mexico, where the United States closed its consulate Thursday because of recent increased drug violence.

The U.S. Consulate also issued a warning "to advise U.S. citizens of recent gun battles in Reynosa, Mexico, and cities surrounding Reynosa in the last week."

Thursday night's firefights were the latest in a string of confrontations that some residents say have been going on for at least 10 days.

Earlier this week, local news reports said, gunmen in as many as 20 vehicles clashed with members of the Mexican military and municipal police in Ciudad Mier, just west of Reynosa. The daytime gun battle Tuesday reportedly resulted in the abduction of 10 municipal police officers.

Video from the scene showed abandoned police sport utility vehicles with bullet holes and broken windows. Shattered glass covered the street against a backdrop of palm trees. A damaged red truck with the insignia CDG -- the Spanish acronym for the Gulf Cartel -- was shown being towed from the shooting scene.

In Reynosa, residents told CNN on Thursday that banners purportedly placed throughout the city by the rival Los Zetas drug cartel announced there would be a gunfight at 8 p.m. Residents reported hearing gunshots as early as 7:30 p.m.

After Thursday night's gunfire, officials say they confiscated 14 vehicles, 29 firearms, 10 hand grenades and more than 1,700 rounds of ammunition of various caliber.

On a tour of the border cities, Tamaulipas Gov. Eugenio Hernandez Flores sought to reassure residents that the government is committed to controlling the mayhem.

Violence throughout Mexico has exploded since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the drug cartels shortly after assuming office in December 2006. More than 16,000 people have been killed in drug violence since then.

Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, is the most violent city in Mexico and one of the deadliest on earth. The rival Juarez and Sinaloa cartels are fighting for control of the lucrative drug routes into the United States as well street sales within Ciudad Juarez. The cartels also are fighting the Mexican army and federal, state and local police.

Mexican officials point out that most of the deaths involve criminals; few civilians have been killed.

In Juarez earlier this month, however, 10 teenagers and five other people were gunned down at a party. Officials said the gunmen belonged to the Juarez cartel and mistakenly believed the partygoers were members of a gang affiliated with the Sinaloa cartel.

CNN's Mariano Castillo and Nick Valencia contributed to this report.