Nine killed in drug gang shootout in Mexican mountain village: prosecutors

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Nine people were killed in what prosecutors said on Sunday was a gun battle between rival drug gangs in the mountains of Mexico's west coast state of Michoacan.

The battle took place Saturday and in an isolated village of the municipality of Churumuco, which borders on Guerrero state, where eight bodies were found on the main street and another in the nearby sierra, the state prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The region, especially Guerrero state, is the site of the worst violence in Mexico in recent years as gangs battle over fields of opium poppies, which are used to make heroin.

In the first three months of the year, there have been 338 murders in Michoacan, up more than 40 percent from the same period last year.

Violence in Mexico has risen to its worst levels since 2011. Guerrero is the bloodiest state and Michoacan has the fourth highest tally for firearms murders.

In January 2014, the federal government effectively took over control of Michoacan for more than a year in a bid to curb violence between drug gangs and community militias that had risen up to fight extortion and kidnappings.

(Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; editing by Michael O'Boyle and Grant McCool)