ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) — Gunmen kidnapped 20 men who were traveling together in Mexico's Pacific coast resort city of Acapulco, authorities said Saturday.
A shootout between drug gangs, meanwhile, left 14 people dead in remote town in the northern state of Durango, Mexican newspapers reported.
The group of men in Acapulco was visiting from the western city of Morelia and looking for a place to stay when they were abducted Thursday, said Fernando Monreal, director of state investigative police in Guerrero state, where the resort city is located.
He said the kidnapping was reported by a man who had been with the group.
The man told police that he and another fellow traveler had left the others to go a store and when they returned their companions were gone.
Witnesses said the men — who ranged in age from 17 to 47 — were kidnapped by an armed gang that drove them away in the four cars in which the group had been traveling. Police later found the cars abandoned near the kidnapping site.
The motive was unknown.
The man who notified police described his companions as tourists. He said they all worked for the same tire-alignment company in Morelia and saved up each year to take vacations together.
Monreal said police have been unable to locate the man since he reported the kidnapping Friday. The man left a cell phone but was not answering it, Monreal said.
Acapulco has been a key battleground for lucrative drug-trafficking routes. Violence in the region increased this year after a split in the Beltran Leyva cartel, whose leadership has been hit hard by President Felipe Calderon's drug war.
Police, who were scouring the resort cities and the highways leading out of it for the missing men, gave no indication that they were tied to drug trafficking.
Drug-gang henchmen frequently kidnap rivals and dump their bodies on the streets days later. But it is rare for a survivor of such kidnappings to go to the police.
The shootout between rival drug-dealing gangs broke out Friday morning in the town of San Jose de la Cruz, El Universal and Reforma newspapers reported, citing the Durango state attorney general's office.
Police and soldiers traveled to the town after being alerted by residents, Ruben Lopez, a spokesman for the office, was quoted as saying.
It often takes authorities hours to travel to the scene of shootouts in Durango, a mountainous state that has long been a stronghold for Mexico's most powerful drug traffickers.
Nobody answered the phone Saturday at the state attorney general's office.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.
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