Nine Mexican police killed in ambush: official

Gunmen have killed nine Mexican police officers and wounded another in an ambush in Guerrero, a southwestern state beset by drug violence, prosecutors said.

The Guerrero prosecutor's office announced yesterday on its Facebook page "the death of nine state police officers killed in the line of duty" late Tuesday.

The officers were in patrol cars when the gunmen attacked them on a road in the town of Apaxtla de Castrejon, which is located in a region known as "Tierra Caliente" ("Hot Land") that has been the scene of brutal gang turf wars.

Cocaine shipments that arrive on the Pacific coast are transported through Tierra Caliente -- a region straddling Guerrero, Michoacan and Mexico state -- where marijuana and opium poppies are also produced.

In December, four police officers were gunned down in Michoacan.

Gangs linked to the powerful Zetas drug cartel are fighting for dominance in Guerrero against the Knights Templar, an offshoot of La Familia Michoacana that first emerged in Michoacan.

The violence has seeped into Guerrero's tourist resort of Acapulco, where six Spanish tourists were raped late Monday by masked gunmen who stormed a rented beach house.

Fed up with the police's failure to stem the crime wave, hundreds of farmers in the central part of Guerrero grabbed rifles and machetes last month to police their communities.

Mexico is in the throes of a drug war that has left more than 70,000 people dead since 2006, with gangs battling each other and the authorities.

President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December pledging to shift the drug war's focus towards bringing down the wave of murders, kidnapping and extortion plaguing Mexico, but the violence has continued unabated.

Mexico's police are regularly targeted by drug gangs, and municipal and state police officers are often accused of working with the cartels.

Pena Nieto has announced plans to form a new federal police force modeled after France's gendarmerie that would replace the army and marines, which were deployed by his predecessor Felipe Calderon to battle the cartels in 2006.

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