Three separate armed attacks in Mexico on Monday left at least 24 people dead, including a dozen police officers, authorities said about the latest violence to hit regions plagued by drug trafficking.
In the deadliest incident, unidentified attackers targeted a security patrol in Guerrero state’s municipality of Coyuca de Benitez, prosecutor Alejandro Hernandez said.
At least 13 people were killed and two others wounded in that attack, the state prosecutor’s office said in a statement, with Hernandez earlier having confirmed that at least 11 of those killed were members of the municipal police force.
A senior state security official was traveling in the convoy when it was attacked, authorities said, without confirming media reports that he was murdered along with police bodyguards.
Security forces were later seen patrolling the area — where several lifeless bodies lay on the ground — as a police helicopter flew overhead.
Another attack, in the neighboring state of Michoacan, left four civilians and a policeman dead, and two others wounded, authorities said.
A group of gunmen had attacked the brother of the mayor of the town of Tacambaro, according to the state prosecutor’s office.
A restaurant worker and a member of the police force were among those killed, while the mayor’s brother was wounded, it said.
In a video posted on social media, gunmen were seen opening fire before fleeing in several vehicles.
A third attack on Monday, a gunfight between alleged drug dealers in the central Mexican state of Puebla, left at least six dead and two wounded, the regional government reported.
The incident took place in the rural community of San Miguel Canoa, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from Mexico City.
Mexico is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has seen more than 420,000 people murdered since the government deployed the military in its war on drugs in 2006.
Since then, the country’s murder rate has tripled to 25 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Mexico has also registered more than 110,000 disappearances since 1962, most attributed to criminal organizations.
Guerrero and Michoacan are among the country’s most violent areas, due to confrontations between rival drug traffickers and security forces.
Although it is home to the famed coastal resort of Acapulco, Guerrero is one of Mexico’s poorest states.
Violence — particularly targeting low-level officials — often escalates across the country in the run-up to elections. Presidential and parliamentary polls are set to be held next year.
Even so, experts said the latest wave of violence was particularly shocking.
“Guerrero has long seen one of Mexico’s most complicated armed conflicts, but the current, pre-electoral levels of violence are extraordinary,” Falko Ernst, an analyst at International Crisis Group, wrote on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
Since taking office in 2018, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has championed a “hugs not bullets” strategy to tackle violent crime at its roots by fighting poverty and inequality with social programs, rather than with the army.