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Mexico ambush: Boy, 13, walked 23km for help after gun attack

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A 13-year-old survivor of the attack by suspected Mexican drug cartel gunmen on a convoy of US Mormons hid six siblings in bushes before walking 23km (14 miles) to get help, his family said.

Eight children survived Monday’s attack in northern Mexico in which three women and six children were killed.

Five of the children have bullet wounds, US media report.

The victims are members of the LeBaron family, linked to a Mormon community that settled in Mexico decades ago.

Mexico’s security minister said the group could have been targeted accidentally as a result of mistaken identity. However family members have said the community, known for speaking out about cartel violence, had received threats in the past.

Sonora state in northern Mexico is being fought over by two rival gangs, La Línea, which has links to the larger Juárez cartel, and “Los Chapos”, which is part of the Sinaloa cartel.

Mexican investigators on Tuesday said one person had been arrested and was being investigated for possible links to the attack. The suspect was found in the border town of Agua Prieta with a haul of weapons and two gagged hostages inside a vehicle, the Associated Press reported.

How did the children escape?

A group of three mothers and their 14 children set off in three cars from the community La Mora in Sonora state on Monday morning. The women had been travelling together “for safety reasons”, a relative told CNN.

Shortly after leaving, all three of their cars were at different points ambushed by gunmen near Bavispe.

Devin Langford, 13, was travelling with eight of his siblings and his mother in one vehicle. His mother, Dawna Langford, was killed along with two of his brothers in the attack.

The teenager escaped with six of his siblings and hid them in bushes. He then walked for six hours to the community’s base in La Mora, relative Kendra Lee Miller wrote on Facebook.

One of Devin’s sisters, nine-year-old McKenzie, then left the remaining five siblings and walked for four hours in the dark after Devin failed to return. She was later found by rescuers.

Who are the other victims?

Five of the victims – 30-year-old Rhonita Maria Miller and her eight-month-old twins Titus and Tiana, 12-year-old Howard Jr and 10-year-old Krystal – died after their car was targeted by gunmen. At some point, the vehicle caught fire and exploded.

Christina Langford Johnson, 31, was also killed in a third vehicle.

Her seven-month-old baby, Faith Langford, survived the attack. She was found on the floor of the vehicle in her baby seat.

Ms Langford Johnson reportedly got out of the vehicle with her hands raised to ask the attackers to stop shooting but was gunned down, witnesses said.

After Devin alerted the community, members armed themselves, intending to set out for the scene of shooting. But they decided to wait for reinforcements after “realising they would be risking death, since there had been continual shooting for hours, all over the mountains near La Mora”, Ms Miller said.

Faith was found 11 hours after the attack by community members.

The survivors, including the children with gun injuries, were then transferred to get medical help and eventually were airlifted to the US city of Phoenix.

In a tweet President Donald Trump described the victims as a group of “wonderful family and friends” who had “got caught between two vicious drug cartels, who were shooting at each other”.

What has the reaction been?

Mr Trump said he stood ready to offer support to combat the problem of cartel violence and “do the job quickly and effectively”. The FBI has reportedly offered to assist Mexican authorities in the investigation.