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Mexico: 13 law enforcement officers gunned down in ambush

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Gunmen apparently from a drug gang ambushed a police convoy Thursday in central Mexico, killing 13 police officers and prosecutors in a hail of gunfire, authorities said, the Associated Press reported.

The slaying of the 13 law enforcement officers in the State of Mexico was the country’s single largest massacre of law enforcement since October 2019, when cartel gunmen ambushed and murdered 14 state police officers in the neighboring state of Michoacan, according to the AP.

Eight state police officers and five prosecution investigators died in the ambush, authorities said, per the AP.

The Thursday ambush prompted a massive search for the perpetrators in a rural, gang-plagued area southwest of Mexico City, which is surrounded on three sides by Mexico State, according to the AP. The deceased law enforcement officers worked for the state.

Rodrigo Martínez Celis Wogau, the head of the Mexico State Public Safety Department, said soldiers, marines, and National Guard troops were searching the area by land and from the air looking for the killers.

“The convoy was carrying out patrols in the region, precisely to fight the criminal groups that operate in the area,” Martínez Celis said, per the AP. “This aggression is an attack on the Mexican government.”

“We will respond with all force,” he added.

The convoy on Thursday was patrolling in Coatepec Harinas, about 40 miles southwest of Mexico City, to “combat criminal groups who operate in that zone,” Martínez added in a video statement posted on Twitter, per The New York Times.

Martínez, per The Times, blamed “organized crime.”

There was no immediate indication as to what gang or cartel the gunmen might have been part of, according to the AP. A number of them operate in the area around Coatepec Harinas, where the ambush happened.

The town is near a hot springs resort called as Ixtapan de la Sal. However, it is also relatively close to cities such as Taxco, where authorities have reported activities by the Guerreros Unidos gang apparently allied with the Jalisco cartel and by the Arcelia gang, dominated by the Familia Michoacán crime organization, according to the AP.

Thursday’s slayings in central Mexico added to the 86 police officers who had been killed already this year, according to Causa en Común, a Mexican anti-corruption group that focuses on public security, as The Times noted.

Last year was the deadliest year for Mexican police since the group began tracking deaths in 2018, with at least 524 officers killed.

Thursday’s attack, the AP wrote, appears to present a challenge for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who has pursued a strategy of not directly confronting drug cartels in an effort to avoid violence.

RELATED: Report: Biden quietly telling Mexico to curb surge of migrants

On Friday, López Obrador promised to bring the murderers to justice, according to Reuters.

“We are filled with sorrow about what happened in the State of Mexico,” he said at a regular news conference.

There would not be “impunity” for anyone, he added.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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VP Kamala Harris publicly mourns Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation

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Vice President Kamala Harris mourned the Palestinians in Gaza who were killed in the successful Israeli hostage rescue operation this weekend during an address delivered over the weekend.

Israeli forces say Hamas intentionally kept the hostages in a “civilian environment.” They also said even the Palestinians who were holding the hostages were also “civilians.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari of the IDF said Hamas has been holding hostages inside civilian buildings, including the locations where Israeli forces rescued Noa Argamani, 26, Almog Meir Jan, 22, Shlomi Ziv, 41, and Andrey Kozlov, 27.

“Before I begin, I just say a few words about the morning which I know weighs heavily on all of our hearts,” she said.

“On Oct. 7, Hamas committed a brutal massacre of 1,200 innocent people and abducted 250 hostages,” she continued. “Thankfully, four of those hostages were reunited with their families tonight. And we mourn all of the innocent lives that have been lost in Gaza, including those tragically killed today.”

The Israeli operation retrieved four hostages who were taken into Gaza by Hamas on Oct. 7. Harris, speaking before the Michigan Democratic Party, celebrated their retrieval but spent more time lamenting the deaths of Palestinians killed in the operation, many of whom Israel has described as terrorists.

“We have been working every day to bring an end to this conflict in a way that ensures Israel is secure, brings home all hostages, ends ongoing suffering for Palestinian people and ensures that Palestinians can enjoy their right to self-determination, dignity and freedom,” Harris added. “As President Biden said last week, it is time for this war to end.”

Fox News reports that Hamas-run authorities in Gaza claim over 270 Palestinians were killed in the Israeli operation, though they make no distinction between militants and innocents. Israeli forces claim the number was fewer than 100.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan also confirmed reports on Sunday that some number of innocents appeared to have been killed in the operation.

“We the United States are not in a position today to make a definitive statement about [the death toll],” Sullivan said in a Sunday interview with CNN. “But we do know this: innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number we don’t know, but innocent people were killed.”

“Every day that we see more innocent people lost is another horrible, awful, tragic day,” he added.

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