Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua - In the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at a busy intersection, killing seven officers and a young man caught in the crossfire. Two more officers were seriously wounded.
The ambush was one of the largest fatal attacks on law enforcement officers since a drug war began in the city in 2008.
Two municipal police officers embrace after they were ambushed by unknown gunmen in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday April 23, 2010. At least six federal policemen and one municipal police as well as a young man who was passing by, were killed in the ambush, according to police authorities.
Authorities say the officers had stopped to talk to a street vendor Friday who flagged them down for help. Gunmen suddenly opened fire from behind, then fled in three vehicles.
The federal agents killed were Romenio Velazquez Chávez, Pedro Balderas González, Juan Garcia Sánchez, Ulises García Martínez, Israel Alejandro Carbajal Cornejo and José Rivera Chavarría.
Municipal police spokesman Jacinto Segura said the local officer killed was Ana Gustina Nevares Soto, 22, who joined the force in August.
Segura said Nevares Soto was a member of the Benito Juárez municipal police command in south Juárez.
The other man who was killed was identified Gabriel Ornelas Sotelo, between 25 and 30 years old. It's not known whether he was involved in the shooting or was a bystander.
A municipal police officer reacts as she is comforted by fellow officers after they were ambushed by unknown gunmen in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Friday April 23, 2010.
About noon, federal and municipal police vehicles were patrolling the Bosques de Salvarcar neighborhood in south Juárez when a street vendor at the intersection of Durango and Santiago Troncoso Avenues asked for help.
When the officers stopped to assist, a group of armed men arrived in several vehicles, opened fire and killed five federal agents and the police officer.
Mexican federal police officers provided security near the scene of a shootout that left five of their fellow officers dead Friday morning. One Juarez municipal police officer and an alleged armed attacker were also killed.
Officials said the agents tried to fight off the attack and fired their weapons at the attackers. In all, more than 300 shots were fired, officials said.
Chihuahua state police said three other people were wounded, including a federal agent who died five hours later at a hospital.
Juarenses watched as authorities investigated the scene of a shoothout between law enforcement officers and armed attackers Friday in Juarez.
Federal officials said at least one hit man was wounded, but he and the others fled. It's not known how many attackers were involved in the ambush, a tactic that rarely takes place at such a large scale.
According to a state police preliminary investigation, at least three types of weapons were used in the attack, including AK-47s, other high-powered rifles and 9 mm handguns.
Federal agents were able to find two vehicles used by the gunmen in the shooting, but no arrests were reported late Friday.
A Mexican Federal police helicopter flew low over the scene of a shootout in Juarez in which six law enforcement officers were killed Friday.
Hours after the attack, a painted message directed to top federal police commanders and claiming responsibility for the attack appeared on a wall in downtown Ciudad Juarez. It was apparently signed by La Linea gang, the enforcement arm of the Juarez drug cartel. The Juarez cartel has been locked in a bloody turf battle with the Sinaloa cartel, led by Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.
The message read: "This will happen to you ... for being with El Chapo Guzman and to all the dirtbags who support him. Sincerely, La Linea." The authenticity of the message could not be independently verified.
Mexican federal police spokes man Jose Salinas said authorities think the attack was a retaliation for the arrests of eight people Thursday.
Police on Thursday arrested five men and three women on suspicion of possession of drugs and high-caliber weapons.
Arrested were José Alfredo "Chito" Amaro Campos, 37, Alan Joseph Mena Martinez, 18, Carmen Patricia Ayala Chávez, 18, and five minors.
"This (attack) is in response to the blows we have delivered," Salinas said.
After Friday's attack, Mayor José Reyes Ferriz, said authorities will be more careful in the way they operate.
Reyes Ferriz gave orders to the secretary of public safety to increase the number of federal and municipal officers working together when patrolling.
Six Mexican federal police officers, one Juarez municipal police officer and one civilian were killed during a shootout at the intersection of Santiago Troncoso and Durango streeets in Juarez Friday morning. According to reports, the officers were conducting vehicle inspections at the intersection when they were surrounded by armed men in at least three late model vehicles who began firing at the officers.
The number of units -- vehicles that have from two to eight officers -- will increase from two to at least three when they are on patrol, he said.
"We will not stop working and won't let this type of attack affect the police work we're carrying out. However, we have to take precautions to make sure federal and municipal police are safe while patrolling the streets," Reyes Ferriz said.
He said the city is patrolled by 8,000 police officers -- 5,000 federal and 3,000 municipal. Law enforcement officers have been killed in the past while on patrol, going to work or after their shift, but not in numbers as large as in the ambush on Friday.
The city has been under a cloud of violence since Jan. 2008 when war broke out between the Juárez and the Sinaloa drug cartels. Since then, nearly 5,000 have been killed in an near Juárez.
More than 22,700 people have been killed in Mexico's drug war since December 2006, when President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against the cartels.