Mexico City (AFP) - At least three women and six children from an American Mormon community based in northern Mexico have been killed in an ambush, a relative of the victims said on Monday.
Julian Lebaron said his cousin was on her way to the airport when she was attacked and shot in her car along with her four children in Rancho de la Mora, an area notorious for drug traffickers and bandits of all kinds.
"It was a massacre," Lebaron, an activist who has denounced criminal groups in the area, told Formula Radio.
Lebaron said his relatives located the vehicle, which had been set on fire with the bodies of the victims inside.
Two other vehicles were found several hours later, containing the bodies of two more women and two children.
At least five other children, one of whom was shot and wounded, managed to escape and walk home, and one girl was reported missing after having run into the woods to hide, Lebaron added.
The Chihuahua state attorney general, Cesar Augusto Peniche, said the number of victims remains "confused".
The attack took place on the border between the states of Chihuahua and Sonora near the border with the United States.
Julian Lebaron's brother, Benjamin Lebaron, founder of a crime-fighting group called SOS Chihuahua, was assassinated in 2009.
The affected community is made up of descendants of Mormons who fled the United States in the nineteenth century, after being persecuted for their traditions, including polygamy.
Many Mormons in Mexico enjoy dual Mexican and American citizenship.
Mexico has registered more than 250,000 murders since the government controversially deployed the army to fight drug trafficking in 2006.
Many experts blame the "drug war" for spiraling violence, as fragmented cartels battle each other and the army.