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18 dead after Mexican gun battle

IT was a shoot-out straight from Hollywood in the former playground of its biggest stars: Outlaws holed up in a hillside mansion fought heavily armed Mexican soldiers with a rain of gunfire and grenades that had tourists cowering in hotels nearby.

Roughly 3,000 shots and 50 explosions marked the four-hour battle late on Saturday in Acapulco that left 16 gunmen and two soldiers dead. Nine other people were wounded, including three bystanders.

More than a dozen Mexican tourists were evacuated from a neighboring hotel strip where, in the 1950s, Elizabeth Taylor held one of her many weddings and John Wayne and "Tarzan" star Johnny Weissmuller threw lavish parties at Los Flamingos Hotel less than 100 meters from the gun battle.

The battle erupted after soldiers received a tip that a group of armed men were gathered at a gated house. Several gunmen tried to flee but crashed their car into a military Hummer that was blocking the gate. At one point, more armed men with grenades arrived to reinforce the men in the house, but they died in the shooting, said an army colonel.

Inside, soldiers found four men bound and shirtless who claimed they were police officers being held hostage. The soldiers confiscated 47 guns, grenades and ammunition, as well as several cars.

Five people inside the house were detained, including the four alleged officers, the Defense Department said.

Military officials said they are still investigating the case. But given the weapons stash, large home and late-model cars, it looked like the normal trappings for drug cartels. No drugs were found.


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