ACAPULCO – Armed men launched near-simultaneous assaults on police in the Pacific resort of Acapulco, leaving one attacker dead and an officer wounded and terrifying residents in what has become one of the world’s deadliest cities.
The attacks Sunday night targeted local federal police headquarters in a beachside tourist quarter and a hotel across town where many of its agents are lodged.
The city’s coastal boulevard was temporarily closed due to the firefight, and restaurants, bars and stores sealed their doors with customers inside to avoid getting caught up in the violence.
Two security officials said an attacker was killed and his body recovered in a vehicle that was left behind, while an officer was wounded in the leg. They were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Guerrero state Attorney General Javier Olea told journalists the attacks may have been a response to recent detentions of drug cartel leaders, but did not give more details.
However one of the security officials said that a hypothesis links the violence to the capture hours earlier of the suspected local leader of a group working for the cartel of the Beltran Leyva brothers.
Acapulco, once a favorite among Hollywood stars and legions of American tourists, has seen a rash of killings blamed on warring drug gangs in recent years.
The violence has also spilled into neighborhoods frequented by travelers, including the killings of roving vendors at the beach and bags containing dismembered bodies that were dumped near the seaside promenade.
In 2015, the city of about 700,000 residents registered 902 killings. In January-February of this year there were 139 homicides, higher than during the same two months last year but lower than at the peak of violence last summer.
Earlier this month the U.S. government prohibited its workers from traveling to Acapulco in response to the violence. Most of the surrounding state of Guerrero is also off-limits for U.S. employees.
JOSÉ ANTONIO RIVERA