MEXICO CITY – Ten suspected criminals and six police officers died in a shootout and ambush outside Zihuatanejo de Azueta, a city in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, officials said Wednesday.
“State police officers were attacked by armed civilians. In repelling the attack, (the officers) got involved in a shootout that left 10 suspected criminals dead and a state police officer wounded,” Guerrero state security spokesman Roberto Alvarez said in a statement.
State police officers were ambushed by several gunmen shortly after the shootout and six law enforcement agents were killed, Alvarez said.
Guerrero Attorney General’s Office investigators are gathering evidence and have not ruled out the possibility that the ambush was staged in response to the shootout near the community of Coacuyul, located outside Zihuatanejo de Azueta, the state security spokesman said.
The shootout started around 5:30 pm Tuesday when state police officers on patrol near the community were attacked by gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles, Alvarez said.
“The officers repelled the attack in approximately 30 minutes and 10 suspected criminals lost their lives at that location,” the state security spokesman said, adding that “several others fled in a compact car.”
Army troops and marines responded to the shootout, providing support for the officers and helping search for the suspects.
State police officers were ambushed around 5:45 pm on the state highway near Las Mesillas, another community outside Zihuatanejo de Azueta.
Since the disappearance of 43 Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School students in the city of Iguala on Sept. 26, 2014, Guerrero has been plagued by a wave of violence that the security forces have been unable to control.