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Nine Mexican police killed in ambush: official

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

Gunmen have killed nine Mexican police officers and wounded another in an ambush in Guerrero, a southwestern state beset by a crime wave from its Acapulco resort to its rural mountains, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Guerrero prosecutor's office announced 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 seen brutal drug cartel 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.

Mexico's police are regularly targeted by drug gangs, and municipal and state police officers are often accused of working with the cartels. In December, four police officers were gunned down in Michoacan.

The violence has also seeped into Guerrero's tourist resort of Acapulco, where six Spanish women were raped late Monday by masked gunmen who stormed a rented beach house. Seven Spanish men and a Mexican woman, who was spared, were tied up during the assault.

Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton Aburto -- whose city was once a haunt of Hollywood legends such as Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor -- urged President Enrique Pena Nieto to deploy more federal security following the sexual assault.

"Today we have not seen the support of the president, and we are demanding that he returns to see Acapulco," Walton Aburto said. "Acapulco has a lot of needs."

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.

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.

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

The vigilantes were accused of shooting at a car with two Mexican tourists who ignored a checkpoint as they headed to the coast last weekend.

Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said on Twitter that he met with Governor Angel Aguirre on Wednesday to discuss "issues of priority" for Guerrero.

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 so far continued unabated.

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.

Osorio Chong said last month that soldiers would remain in the streets "until crime levels go down throughout the country."

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