Gunmen armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked a convoy carrying the top security official of the western state of Michoacan on Saturday, leaving four dead and 10 wounded in the second brazen ambush in as many days.
Public Safety Secretary Minerva Bautista was recovering from non-life-threatening wounds, said an official of the state attorney general's office who was not authorized to be quoted by name. Bautista was travelling in a bullet-resistant sport utility vehicle.
The dead included two of her bodyguards and two bystanders. Of the nine people wounded in addition to Bautista, five were bystanders — including two girls ages 2 and 12 — and four were part of Bautista's security detail.
There was no immediate information on the identity of the attackers, who numbered about 20, or on a possible motive. However, drug violence is common in Michoacan, the home base of La Familia cartel.
Bautista was returning from the inauguration of a fair when her three-vehicle convoy was blocked just after midnight by a truck the attackers apparently used to block the road.
Several hours later, assailants tossed a hand grenade at a police station in the Michoacan state capital, Morelia, about 30 yards (meters) from the state public safety department's headquarters. The explosion damaged three vehicles, but nobody was hurt.
Mexican drug cartels have been known to target security officials; the acting federal police chief was shot dead in May 2008 in an attack attributed to drug traffickers lashing back at a nationwide crackdown on organized crime.
Underworld Mayhem Continues in Mexico
Sixteen people were killed over the past 24 hours in gangland-related incidents in three different Mexican states, authorities said Friday.
The Public Safety Department in the southwestern state of Guerrero said five men were found shot to death on a road leading to the town of Pinolapa.
Police collected 40 shell-casings at the scene.
Two gunmen were killed in a clash with army troops in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, Mexico’s defense department said, adding that the soldiers were attacked while investigating a report about a possible kidnapping at a ranch near Panuco.
After repelling the assault, the troops arrested 16 suspects and found in one of their vehicle’s the body of a man who had been fatally shot about 12 hours earlier.
Soldiers confiscated seven guns, 1,108 rounds of ammunition, eight grenades and 15 late-model SUVs, along with camouflage uniforms and other military gear.
The defense department also said that eight suspected drug traffickers died in a confrontation with troops in the northwestern state of Durango.
On Friday, gunmen ambushed two police vehicles at a busy intersection in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez, killing seven officers and a 17-year-old boy caught in the crossfire. Two more officers were seriously wounded.
Mexico has been plagued in recent years by drug-related violence blamed on powerful cartels.
A classified report provided recently by the government to senators estimated 22,743 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in December 2006, including 2,904 killed so far this year.
Calderon has deployed 50,000 soldiers and 20,000 federal police nationwide to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.