MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Fifteen state police officers were killed in an ambush by suspected gang members in western Mexico, authorities said on Tuesday, the second major attack on security forces in less than a month in one of the country’s most important states.
The attorney general’s office of Jalisco state said 15 police officers died and five were wounded in the ambush on Monday afternoon at Soyatan in the municipality of San Sebastian del Oeste, near the popular beach resort of Puerto Vallarta.
The attack was one of the deadliest against security forces since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012, pledging to restore order after years of gang violence.
Jalisco has increasingly become a flashpoint in Mexico, where more than 100,000 people have been killed in clashes between drug gangs and security forces since 2007.
A Jalisco official said suspected gang members may have died in the incident too but could not give details.
Jalisco is home to Mexico’s second biggest city, Guadalajara, and has been plagued by the Jalisco New Generation (JNG), a violent drug cartel that crime experts now regard as one of the main threats to security in the country.
The police officers killed in the ambush were on their way from Puerto Vallarta to Guadalajara, said Alejandro Solorio Arechiga, Jalisco’s commissioner for public security.
Last month, five members of Mexico’s new militarized federal police force were killed in a bloody ambush carried out by suspected gang members southeast of Guadalajara.
Three suspected gangsters and two other people also died in the gunfight, which Mexican media blamed on the JNG.
Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz and Dave Graham; editing by W Simon