Gunmen apparently from a drug gang ambushed a police convoy in central Mexico, killing eight state police officers and five prosecution investigators in a hail of gunfire, authorities said.
The killing of the 13 law enforcement officers in the State of Mexico on Thursday was the country’s single biggest slaying of law enforcement since October 2019, when cartel gunmen ambushed and killed 14 state police officers in the neighbouring state of Michoacan.
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Photos of the grisly scene circulated on social media, showing a bullet-riddled police car and an unmarked truck, along with officers’ bodies scattered along the street or still inside the car.
The convoy of security personnel was attacked in broad daylight by suspected gang members in the Llano Grande area in the municipality of Coatepec Harinas as it patrolled the area, said Rodrigo Martinez-Celis, the security minister for the State of Mexico.
“This attack is an affront to the Mexican state. We will respond with all force and support of the law,” the minister said in an address to the media.
While Mexico State contains suburbs of the capital, it also includes lawless mountain and scrublands such as the one where the attack occurred.
The area is southwest of Mexico City and about 64 kilometres (40 miles) south of the city of Toluca, the capital of the populous State of Mexico, which surrounds much of the capital.
Mexico’s National Guard militarised police and the armed forces are searching by land and air for the perpetrators.
It was unclear how many suspected criminals were killed or wounded in the incident, or if it involved any of the country’s main drug cartels.
The town is near a hot springs resort known as Ixtapan de la Sal, which is popular among Mexico City residents as a weekend getaway. But it also relatively close to cities like Taxco, where authorities have reported activities by the Guerreros Unidos gang apparently allied with the Jalisco cartel and by the Arcelia gang, dominated by the Familia Michoacán crime organisation.
The attack appears to present a challenge for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has pursued a strategy of not directly confronting drug cartels in an effort to avoid violence.