President Donald Trump offered Tuesday to help Mexico hunt the killers of nine Mormon women and children shot dead in a lawless border area - and said the United States stood ready to back its southern neighbour in a "war" on the drug cartels.
Gunmen ambushed the members of the LeBaron family - a large clan of Mormons who emigrated to Mexico in the late 19th century - on a rural road Monday between the states of Sonora and Chihuahua, which border the United States.
Three women and six children were killed, including two twin babies, said, relatives and Mexican officials. Six children were also wounded in the attack, which left the family's three cars riddled with bullets and badly charred.
"If Mexico needs or requests help in cleaning out these monsters, the United States stands ready, willing & able to get involved and do the job quickly and effectively," Trump wrote in a tweet.
A TV grab from a video published by the LeBaron family on social media shows a burned vehicle that was carrying three women and six children from an American Mormon family in northern Mexico on November 4.
He praised Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador for prioritizing the fight against drug trafficking, but said "the cartels have become so large and powerful that you sometimes need an army to defeat an army!
"This is the time for Mexico, with the help of the United States, to wage WAR on the drug cartels and wipe them off the face of the earth."
Lopez Obrador said he would accept "all necessary cooperation" to get justice for the victims, all of whom lived on the Mexican side but had dual nationality.
But the left-wing populist, who has declared an end to Mexico's "drug wars," said he was not looking for a new one.
"We don't agree (with Trump) on that," he told a news conference. "War is synonymous with irrationality."
He later tweeted that he had thanked Trump for his support in a phone call.
The White House said the presidents had spoken about the "growing violent behaviour" of drugs cartels and other criminal gangs.
"President Trump made clear that the United States condemns these senseless acts of violence that took the lives of nine American citizens and offered Mexico assistance to ensure the perpetrators face justice," said spokesman Hogan Gidley. Source: AFP