Image caption: Relatives of the victims look at a burned-out vehicle in which four people were killed, Image copyright REUTERS
A 13-year-old survivor of the attack by suspected Mexican drug cartel gunmen on a convoy of US Mormons hid six siblings in bushes before walking 23 km (14 miles) to get help, his family said.
Eight children survived Monday’s attack in northern Mexico in which three women and six children were killed.
Five of the children have bullet wounds, US media report.
The victims are members of the LeBaron family, linked to a Mormon community that settled in Mexico decades ago.
Mexico’s security minister said the group could of been targeted accidentally as a result of mistaken identity. However, family members have said the community, known for speaking out about cartel violence, had received threats in the past.
Sonora state in northern Mexico is being fought over by two rival gangs, La Línea, which has links to the larger Juárez cartel, and “Los Chapos”, which is part of the Sinaloa cartel.
How did the children escape?
A group of three mothers and their 14 children set off in a convoy of three cars from Bavispe in Sonora state on Monday morning and were heading to the neighbouring state of Chihuahua. The women had been travelling together “for safety reasons”, a relative told CNN.
Image caption: Ms Langford Johnson was killed but her baby daughter Faith survived, Image copyright REUTERS/HANDOUT
They were ambushed by gunmen in Bavispe. After his mother and two brothers were fatally shot, Devin Langford, 13, hid six other siblings in bushes and covered them with branches. He then walked for six hours to the community’s base in La Mora, relative Kendra Lee Miller wrote on Facebook.
One of Devin’s sisters, nine-year-old McKenzie, then left the remaining five siblings and walked for four hours in the dark after Devin failed to return. She was later found by rescuers.
A seven-month-old baby, Faith Langford, also survived after her baby seat was placed on the floor of the vehicle by her mother Christina Langford Johnson. Ms Langford Johnson got out of the vehicle with her hands raised to ask the attackers to stop shooting but was gunned down, witnesses said.
After Devin reached La Mora, members of the community armed themselves, intending to set out for the scene of shooting. But they decided to wait for reinforcements after “realising they would be risking death, since there had been continual shooting for hours, all over the mountains near La Mora”, Ms Miller said.
They eventually found Faith in the vehicle 11 hours after the attack.
The survivors were airlifted to the US city of Phoenix. Eight-year-old Cody was shot in the jaw and leg, Kylie, 14, was shot in the foot, four-year-old Xander was shot in the back and nine-month-old Brixton was shot in the chest.