North Border States - Two police officers and three gunmen were killed Thursday during a clash in the northern Mexican city of Torreon, the Coahuila state Attorney General’s Office said.
The confrontation broke out around 1:30 a.m. as state police were responding to a tip about the presence of suspicious vehicles at a spot in Torreon known as Cuatro Caminos.
When they arrived, police “were attacked in a cowardly way and from the rear by armed subjects aboard more than 10 SUVs and automobiles,” the Coahuila AG office said in a statement.
One policeman was pronounced dead at the scene and another died at the hospital, while three gunmen were killed and several others wounded, the statement said.
The wounded gunmen escaped along with the rest of their comrades.
“The state Attorney General’s Office laments the loss of its personnel and expresses its most heartfelt regret to the families of the exemplary public servants who have died today in the performance of their duty,” the statement concluded.
Drug-cartel gunmen killed eight people last week at the grand opening of a Torreon bar whose owner has reputed links to organized crime. Hours later, authorities found four mutilated bodies accompanied by a message identifying them as the perpetrators of the massacre at the tavern.
Torreon and environs have been the scene in recent months of a fierce battle for control of the drug trade in Coahuila and the neighboring state of Durango.
Mexico’s drug war was also blamed for six deaths Wednesday in Ciudad Juarez, a city of 1.5 million just across the border from El Paso, Texas.
A municipal policeman was among the victims.
Cesar Rodriguez Prospero, 41, was attacked Wednesday by several gunmen, the Chihuahua state Attorney General’s Office said.
Rodriguez’s death brings to 33 the number of law enforcement personnel killed in Juarez so far this year, compared with 67 in all of 2009.
Three civilians died when attackers armed with AK-47 assault rifles opened fire on them as they stood outside a home on Juarez’s north side. Two other people were killed in separate incidents.
Drug-war mayhem has claimed more than 960 lives in Juarez since Jan. 1 and upwards of 5,000 over the past 2 1/2 years.
President Felipe Calderon’s administration has deployed about 5,000 Federal Police officers in the border city to try to stem killings by drug cartels battling for control of smuggling routes into the United States.
Juarez was also occupied for months by thousands of army troops, but the military presence did nothing to quell the violence, while drawing numerous complaints from residents about abuses by the soldiers.