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Mexican Police Fire At U.S. Embassy Staff
2012-08-24 21:27:44 (214 weeks ago)
Posted By: Intellpuke

Two U.S. Embassy employees were shot at and wounded by Mexican police on Friday after they were caught up in a police chase on the outskirts of the capital, said Mexican naval officials.

The U.S. embassy vehicle was attacked just south of Mexico City, according to a government statement. A confused gun battle began around 8 a.m. after the embassy car, on its way to a naval installation with two U.S. officials and a captain from the Mexican navy, was approached by car containing armed men.

"The driver of the diplomatic car maneuvered to avoid the aggressors and get back onto the main road, at which point the crew of the aggressor vehicle opened fire," the statement said. "Moments later three other vehicles joined the chase and shot at the U.S. embassy vehicle."

Speaking anonymously, a Mexican government security official said federal police had thought the vehicle belonged to a group of suspected kidnappers they were pursuing, and had opened fire on it. "This was all because of a mix-up," said the official.

The government statement was not clear about the point at which the federal police got involved, or whether any bullets fired from their weapons wounded the U.S. government workers.

(story continues below)

It said the U.S. employees were recovering in hospital from "non-life threatening" injuries, and that the naval captain was unharmed.

The Associated Press quoted an unnamed law enforcement official saying one of the wounded men had been shot in the leg and the other in the stomach and hand. The official did not identify their jobs, but he did rule out that either belonged to Drug Enforcement Administration, the DEA, or the FBI.

The incident took place on a highway on the southern outskirts of Mexico City close to the city of Cuernavaca, which has been ravaged by criminal gangs during the government's conflict with drug cartels.

A number of different organized criminal groups, most famously the remnants of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, are known to have a presence in the mountainous area just beyond the Mexican capital in the state of Morelos.

Morelos has suffered from periodic bouts of intense violence during the drug wars that have killed over 55,000 people since President Felipe Calderón launched a military-led offensive against the country's drug cartels in December 2006.

Although attacks on diplomatic personnel are not common, there have been several in recent years including one last year in northern Mexico which killed a U.S. immigration and customs enforcement agent.

The incident is, at the very least, highly embarrassing for the highly resourced Federal Police which Calderón set up a few years ago with significant U.S. support, and has repeatedly sought to promote as the biggest achievement of his efforts to modernize the country's law enforcement capabilities.

The force is still recovering from the damage to its image down by an incident in the food court of Mexico City's international airport in June in which three federal agents were shot dead by colleagues also in uniform who, according to the official version of events, were on the point of arresting them in connection with drug smuggling investigations.

Intellpuke: You can read this article by Guardian Correspondent Jo Tuckman, reporting from Mexico City, Mexico, in context here:

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