Armed men attacked a police chief in Guerrero, a state in southern Mexico, wounding the official and killing four of his bodyguards, state officials said.
The gunmen attacked Guerrero Northern Zone police chief Humberto Velazquez Delgado on Monday afternoon in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero.
The police chief and his bodyguards were attacked around 3:00 p.m. by gunmen armed with AK-47 assault rifles when they reached a curve on the Chilpancingo-Cuernavaca federal highway, state police director Fernando Monreal said.
“The assailants were waiting for them and ambushed them” about five kilometers (3.1 miles) north of Chilpancingo, Monreal said.
State police officers Agustin Ocampo, Jaime Palacios, Hermenegildo Morales and Carlos Gallardo, who were assigned to the station in Iguala de la Independencia, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) north of Chilpancingo, were killed.
Velazquez was taken to a private hospital for treatment of his wounds.
Investigators found at least 400 bullet casings from AK-47s at the crime scene, officials said.
The motive for the attack has not been determined, but it may be linked to organized crime.
State police and army troops launched a search for the gunmen.
Mexico has been plagued by drug-related violence for years.
A total of 15,270 people died in drug-related violence in Mexico last year, and more than 34,000 people have died since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the country’s cartels shortly after taking office in December 2006.
Calderon has deployed tens of thousands of soldiers and Federal Police officers across the country to combat drug cartels and other criminal organizations.
The anti-drug operation, however, has failed to put a dent in the violence due, according to experts, to drug cartels’ ability to buy off the police and even high-ranking officials.