6 police, 10 suspects killed in shootouts in southern Mexico

A total of sixteen people — six police officers and ten suspects — were killed in two confrontations in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, authorities said Wednesday.

State security spokesman Roberto Alvarez said the first shootout occurred late Tuesday, when a state police convoy came under attack in Coacuyul, a town near the Pacific coast resort of Zihuatanejo.

He said one policeman was wounded and police returned fire, killing 10 suspected gunmen during a 30-minute battle. Assault rifles were found at the scene.

In what Alvarez said may have been retaliation for the first attack, gunmen later ambushed a state police convoy further north, away from the coast, and killed six police officers.

The officers had been visiting families considered at risk because of the drug gang violence that has plagued the area.

The police had been assigned to perform periodic checkups with the families. Alvarez said the gangs had "kidnapped (the families) and had been trying to forcibly recruit them to criminal gangs."

Hundreds of people have fled their towns in the mountains of the state because of gang threats and violence.