Int’l Desk: At least three people have been killed after assassins disguised as road workers launched an early morning attack on Mexico City’s police chief on the capital’s most famous street, reports The Guardian.
Omar García Harfuch was reportedly driving to work through the tree-lined Lomas de Chapultepec neighborhood, home to several foreign embassies when he was ambushed by heavily armed gunmen shortly after 6.30 am.
Omar García Harfuch pictured in 2017. Photograph: Moisés Castillo/AThe attack took place on one of the most upmarket stretches of Avenida Paseo de la Reforma, a 9-mile boulevard that cuts diagonally across the capital of Latin America’s second-largest economy.
The mayor, Claudia Sheinbaum, said her 37-year-old security secretary, who was shot three times, survived and was out of danger in hospital. She said 12 people had been arrested and at least three had died: two male bodyguards and a female passerby who was caught in the crossfire.
Photographs showed the police chief’s bullet-riddled four-wheel drive vehicle and a road carpeted with spent casings.
Sheinbaum said it was too early to say who was responsible, but García Harfuch blamed the ascendant Jalisco New Generation cartel for the attack. “Our nation must continue to stand up to this cowardly organized crime,” he tweeted.
One prominent Mexican journalist, Pascal Beltrán del Río, claimed the hitmen – who had reportedly carried Barrett assault rifles and grenades and been hidden in a truck – were dressed as road workers. He said the last time Mexico’s capital had witnessed such an assault was nearly 50 years ago, in 1971.
Mexico’s president – who has promised, but so far failed, to “pacify” a country that last year suffered a record 34,582 murders – expressed solidarity with the police chief.
“All of this is undoubtedly related to the work that is being done to guarantee peace and tranquility in both Mexico City and the country as a whole,” Andrés Manuel López Obrador told reporters.
López Obrador, a leftwing nationalist, won a historic landslide victory in 2018, vowing to end Mexico’s long-running and fruitless “war on drugs” and to fight crime with “hugs not bullets”.
But a succession of deadly, headline-grabbing attacks – including one last October in which cartel gunmen brought an entire city to a standstill – have caused that philosophy to be increasingly questioned.