8 killed in separate attacks in Mexican state

AP News
Posted: Dec 11, 2009 12:31 AM

At least seven federal police officers and a civilian were killed in Michoacan state in several attacks by gunmen against federal agents in less than 24 hours, state prosecutors said.

Two federal agents were killed Thursday night in a shootout with gunmen in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas. Earlier Thursday, a passer-by was killed in the same city when he drove into a shootout between agents and gunmen outside a hotel where the federal police officers are staying, prosecutors said.

Three more officers who had been wounded Wednesday night in an attack in the town of Apatzingan died at a hospital early Thursday. And two other federal agents were killed in separate attacks Wednesday night in the cities of Uruapan and Lazaro Cardenas, prosecutors said.

Michoacan state in western Mexico is the cradle of the ruthless La Familia drug cartel, which has been blamed for a string of assassinations against federal police and soldiers in recent weeks.

President Felipe Calderon first launched his crackdown against drug cartels in Michoacan, sending thousands of federal police and soldiers to his home state after taking office in late 2006.

Also Thursday, police found four mutilated bodies near a middle school in Chilpancingo, state capital of drug-plagued Guerrero state.

A state police department report said the bodies were discovered an hour before classes began Thursday. A sign next to the victims read "the boss of bosses" _ a tag that authorities attribute to the Beltran-Leyva cartel, it said.

Drug violence has killed more than 14,000 people in Mexico over the past three years.