Prosecutor: 4 police officers, up to 8 suspects killed in western Mexico

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MEXICO CITY — Four police officers were shot dead after being ambushed in western Mexico, and as many as eight suspected attackers were killed in a shootout with other police officers who ran to the location, authorities said Thursday.

Luis Joaquín Méndez, chief prosecutor for the western state of Jalisco, said four municipal police officers in the city of El Salto responded late Wednesday to a call about gunmen at a house.

When they arrived, a woman opened the door and told them nothing was wrong. But gunmen inside then opened fire on the officers, some of whom were dragged into the house and killed, the prosecutor said.

Governor Enrique Alfaro wrote that police reinforcements showed up and engaged in a shootout with the suspects, killing eight and wounding three.

Later, the prosecutor’s office said nine bodies were found in the house – the four police officers and five suspected gunmen. Three more bodies – two men and a woman – were found at a nearby property, they said

Prosecutors said the dead were likely members of a gang that apparently held kidnapping victims in one of the properties. Investigators also found the dismembered remains of another man in plastic bags.

Ricardo Santillán, police chief of El Salto, called the ambush “a cowardly act”.

The Roman Catholic Mexican Council of Bishops issued an open letter on Thursday calling on the government to change course on security, three days after two Jesuit priests were allegedly murdered by a drug gang leader at their church in a remote town in Mexico City. northern Mexico.

“It is time to review the security policy that is failing,” the bishops wrote, calling for a “national dialogue” to find solutions.

President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has stated that his government is no longer focused on detaining drug cartels leaders, and in 2019 he ordered the release of an imprisoned Sinaloa cartel leader to prevent bloodshed.

López Obrador has implemented a strategy he calls “hugs, not bullets,” and he seems to tolerate the gangs at times, even praising them for not meddling in elections.

Asked at his daily morning news briefing if he intended to change strategy, López Obrador said: “No, rather the reverse, this is the right way.”

He has been faced with questions that more murders have been committed in his 3 1/2 years in office than in all six years under President Felipe Calderón in 2006-2012, who often accuses López Obrador of being responsible for unnecessary bloodshed. .

“It’s just that we got a murder rate that was at its peak, way up, and Calderón wasn’t assigned the land that way. He’s screwed it up,” said López Obrador.

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