MEXICO CITY – Mexican authorities are trying to sort out why a U.S. Embassy vehicle was ambushed by federal police on a rural back road in mountains south of the capital, leaving two U.S. government workers wounded.
Officials from both nations said federal officers were chasing criminals Friday morning when a hail of bullets was fired at the embassy sport utility vehicle carrying the two employees and a Mexican Navy captain.
Federal police earlier said men in four vehicles had fired at the embassy SUV, and a Mexican Attorney General’s Office spokesman confirmed Saturday that all were federal police units.
The official said Mexico’s top police official, Public Security Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna, went to the site of the shooting, indicating the sensitivity and tension over a situation that involved an attack not only on U.S. officials, but on Mexican Navy personnel as well.
U.S. officials did not identify the wounded employees or their assignments or agencies, saying only that they were heading to a military training base south of Mexico City and traveling with a Mexican naval captain, who was not seriously injured.
The Mexican official said 12 police officers had been detained.
The two American workers were taken to a hospital in the nearby resort city of Cuernavaca. One had a gunshot wound in his leg and the other was wounded in the stomach and a hand, said a Mexican government official.
Federal police said Friday the officers were in the area looking for criminals, but it did not explain what happened.
“Apparently the police were looking for some bad guys and they ran into each other,” said a U.S. official. “It looks like it was just a bad mistake … they just shot and kept shooting.”
The shooting is an embarrassment for a federal police force that President Felipe Calderon greatly expanded under his term from 6,000 to more than 35,000 officers.