MEXICO CITY — Four police officers in western Mexico are dead after they were drawn into an ambush-style shooting, authorites said Thursday.
Luis Joaquín Méndez, the chief prosecutor of the western state of Jalisco, said four municipal policemen in the city of El Salto responded to a call late Wednesday about armed men at a house.
Once they arrived, a woman answered the door and told them nothing was wrong. But gunmen inside then opened fire on the officers, some of whom were dragged into the home and killed, the prosecutor said.
Gov. Enrique Alfaro wrote that police reinforcements later showed up and engaged in a shootout with the suspects, killing eight of them and wounding three.
Ricardo Santillán, police chief of El Salto, called the shootings “a cowardly act.”
The Roman Catholic Mexican Council of Bishops issued an open letter Thursday calling on the government to change course on security, commenting three days after two Jesuits priests were allegedly killed by a drug gang leader inside their church in a remote town in northern Mexico.
“It is time to revise the security policies that are failing,” the bishops wrote, calling for a “national dialogue” to find solutions.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador has declared his government is no longer focused on detaining drug cartel leaders, and in 2019 he ordered the release of a captured leader of the Sinaloa cartel to avoid bloodshed.
López Obrador has implemented a strategy he calls “hugs, not bullets” and has sometimes appeared to tolerate the gangs, even praising them at one point for not interfering in elections.
Asked at his daily morning news briefing if he intended to change strategies, López Obrador said, “No, rather the reverse, this is the right path.”
He faced questions about the fact that there have been more killings in his 3 1/2 years in office than in all six years under President Felipe Calderón in 2006-2012, whom López Obrador frequently accuses of being responsible for unnecessary bloodshed.
“It’s just that we received a homicide rate that was at its peak, way up, and Calderón wasn’t handed the country like that. He ratched it up,” López Obrador said.
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