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Car bomb prison break frees nine inmates in Mexico

The dramatic breakout began on Wednesday when gunmen stormed the prison in the city of Tula, Hidalgo state, firing shots and injuring two police officers before detonating two car bombs in order to free nine jailed inmates.

Local authorities said the car bombs were detonated in the vicinity of the jail to distract security forces while the operation was being carried out in the prison.

Earlier, Tula firefighter Jose Luis Calva said they were there as extra precaution. "It seems to be an explosive device. Its characteristics and dimensions are unknown to us. That is why experts are on the spot making their assessments."

According to local media, among those who escaped is Jose Artemio Maldonado, better known as "El Michoacano," the alleged leader of Pueblos Unidos, a criminal group based in the Mexican state of Michoacan.

One Tula resident, Edgar Cruz, said the prison break could have been perpetrated by criminal gangs.

"It's regrettable we have to go through this situation, especially in this town which used to be so quiet," he said. "What is happening is unfortunate. The situation is out of our hands. I imagine it was carried out by criminal gangs."

Local police, members of the National Guard and the Mexican army have fanned out looking for the escaped inmates, who are all still at large.

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