American Mormons who have resettled in Mexico are fleeing the country after a "massacre" by drug cartels that have killed nine women and children.

About 100 members of the religious community packed their belongings and head north in a caravan of 18 vehicles, and more will follow.

They leave the site where their ancestors settled almost 70 years ago after ambush against LeBaron Mormon family.

Survivors said they shot three cars and set fire to one of them as they were taking a dirt road in northern Mexico earlier this week.

A person observes framed photographs of Rhonita Maria Miller and her four children, members of the Mexican-American Mormon community, killed by unknown assailants, before her funeral at La Mora, La Mora, State of Sonora, Mexico, on 7 November 2019. REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez
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Attackers shot injured children

Julian LeBaron, a family member, called the attack "massacre", claiming that some of those targeted had been burned alive.

A 13 year old boy escaped, walking 14 miles in six hours, to announce the news to others in the hamlet of La Mora where he lived.

Seven other children survived, despite the fact that most of them were shot, including the face, back and feet.

The victims were identified by a family member as Christina Marie Langford Johnson, 29; Dawna Langford, 43; Trevor Langford, 11, and Rogan Langford, two and a half years old.

The others killed are Rhonita Miller, 30; Howard Miller, age 12; Krystal Miller, 10; and the twins Titus and Tiana Miller, eight months old. All five were shot and burned in their vehicles.

Relatives of deceased Mexican-American family members belonging to Mormon communities react to the burned wreck of a vehicle in which some of their loved ones died in Bavispe, in the state of Sonora, at Mexico, November 5, 2019. REUTERS / Jose Luis Gonzalez DAY
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Some parents and survivors head north to the United States

The scattered Mormon community settled in Mexico in the 1950s, after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints denounced polygamy, forcing some followers to the United States with several wives to relocate elsewhere.

It has 16 million members worldwide.

Bryce Langford, whose mother was one of the women killed, said the community had become increasingly aware of the fact that cartel rappers were recently in the area, which caused some people to consider to move.

But after the attack on Monday, they decided to leave for their own safety, he told the Arizona Daily Star.

Devin Langford
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Devin Langford, 13, escaped to announce the news to the community

"The assets they've acquired there are huge," Langford said.

"And having to get up and leave overnight and leave all that behind, there are really a lot of sad people here."

Leah Langford-Staddon, who has already arrived in Tucson, Arizona, was attending a hospital where five of the injured children are being treated, and said that her mother and sister were taken with as much of their possessions as possible to their vehicles.

"They spent the whole day yesterday packing up, it was unrestrained," she recalls. "Basically, these are just things that can be replaced."

Those who leave are planning to disperse with their parents for the time being, but they would like to end up moving together to a new location, Langford-Staddon added.