An armed commando has kidnapped 14 police officers in the Mexican state of Chiapas. According to local authorities, police officers were stopped and kidnapped on a highway on Tuesday. Security forces began searching for 14 male members of a police facility who “were deprived of their liberty by armed individuals,” according to the Interior Ministry of Chiapas in southern Mexico.
The robbery happened on a stretch of highway between the city of Ocozocoautla and Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of the state of Chiapas – around 700 kilometers southwest of the state capital, Mexico City. Clashes between police officers and criminal gangs have been increasing in the Ocozocoautla region for some time. It is traversed by both illegal immigrants and drug dealers.
Female employees were spared
The Chiapas prosecutor’s office said it is investigating the provenance and authenticity of “numerous videos and photos” seen on online networks and local media that allegedly show the kidnapping. Several people with long guns and bulletproof vests can be seen next to three vans blocking a freeway.
According to the Reforma newspaper, the gunmen stopped the vehicle in which the police officers were sitting, took their cell phones and ordered them to lie on the ground. The commando kidnapped only the men from the group, leaving behind an unknown number of women who were also police officers.
“Generally Peace and Tranquility”
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador downplayed the violence in the region during a visit to Chiapas on Friday. “In general, there is peace and tranquility there,” Lopez Obrador said. Just one day before the head of state’s visit, an officer from the Attorney General’s Office in Tuxtla Gutierrez was seriously injured by gunshots and a companion died. In mid-June, a soldier and a civilian died in a clash between the military and suspected gang members in Ocozocoautla.
Since the start of a controversial anti-drug military offensive in Mexico in December 2006, around 110,000 disappearances have been counted. There were also more than 350,000 murders.
sti/AR (afp, ap)