Nearly two dozen Mexican children whose fathers, all musicians, were killed last week in an attack blamed on a drug cartel were photographed taking up arms for an indigenous community’s police force.
Around 20 children, who range in age from 8 to 14 years old, according to the BBC, were depicted holding rifles and carrying out military-style exercises in the town of Chilapa, 200 miles south of Mexico City.
A total of 10 musicians were killed in an ambush while returning home from a performance — and some of the boys in the photos are believed to be their sons, the BBC added.
The musicians’ burned bodies were found in two vehicles Friday and the Los Ardillos cartel is being blamed for the violence.
One of the vehicles containing the bodies was found on a highway while the other was resting at the bottom of the ravine.
“It was apparently pushed into the ravine on purpose, for which we’ve opened a homicide investigation into the incident,” state government spokesman Roberto Álvarez was quoted by Mexico News Daily as saying.
A group that represents local indigenous people told the BBC that the children are being trained to defend Chilapa from gangs. Community police forces are said to be common in the region.
Local media claimed the photos were taken to send a message to Mexico’s president that there needs to be more security forces sent there.