Six police officers were kidnapped Friday in this northern Mexican metropolis, Nuevo Leon state authorities said.
Witnesses said several SUV-loads of men armed with assault rifles intercepted two state police vehicles at an intersection in Monterrey and forced the officers to surrender, said sources with the Nuevo Leon Security Council.
Bullet holes were found in the abandoned police vehicles.
The mass abduction came a few hours after two gunmen were killed and two others arrested in a clash with state police in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon’s capital, and followed the army’s arrest here Thursday of six traffic cops on suspicion of ties to organized crime.
Recent months have seen more than 50 attacks on law enforcement personnel and infrastructure in Nuevo Leon, which borders Texas. Authorities blame the violence on a fierce turf battle between the Gulf and Los Zetas drug cartels that has raged since March 2010.
Conflict among rival cartels and between criminals and the security forces have claimed some 35,000 lives in Mexico since December 2006, when newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon militarized the struggle against the drug trade.
Until last year, however, drug-war mayhem was rare in Greater Monterrey, home to more than 4 million people and the headquarters of many of Mexico’s leading corporations.