Reuters International

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Suspected gang members shot down a helicopter in a clash with police in restive western Mexico on Tuesday, killing four people, the governor of the state of Michoacan said.

Silvano Aureoles said on Twitter that the operation took place near the violent city of Apatzingan, in Michoacan, and was aimed at detaining "leaders of criminal cells". It was not immediately clear which gang was responsible.

"During the operation, an official helicopter which was supporting the patrol in area of difficult access was shot down," he said. "We lament the death of the pilot, three police officers and a police officer who was injured."

Last year, members of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, which operates in Michoacan and in the neighbouring state of Jalisco, shot down an army helicopter, killing six soldiers.

Michoacan has one of the highest murder rates in Mexico after being overrun with drug gangs and armed vigilante groups.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter, Adriana Barrera and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Simon Gardner)

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