Roadside bombings in Mexico kill six people in ‘act of terror’

Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro blames drug-trafficking groups for placing explosives as a ‘trap’ for police officers.

A forensics group searches for evidence of disappeared people
Volunteer groups who search for missing people in Mexico, such as this one in the state of Jalisco on June 14, often rely on anonymous tips to recover bodies [Refugio Ruiz/AP Photo]

Mexican authorities have announced that a series of roadside bombs in the western state of Jalisco have killed six security officials and injured 12 people, drawing attention to the country’s struggles with security and powerful criminal groups.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro called the overnight explosions a “brutal act of terror”. He blamed the act on an unnamed drug trafficking group.

“This is an unprecedented act that shows what these drug cartels are capable of,” Alfaro wrote earlier on social media. “This attack also represents an open challenge to the Mexican government on all levels.”

Police officers, seen in silhouette, attend to a car engulfed in flames at night.
Police attend to a scene where members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel are alleged to have set fire to a vehicle in Zapopan, Jalisco, in 2022 [File: Fernando Carranza/Reuters]

Alfaro stated that the attack took place after an anonymous caller told a volunteer search group helping locate the bodies of disappeared people that there was a hidden burial site near a road in Tlajomulco, near Jalisco’s capital of Guadalajara.

Eight improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were set up on the road, seven of which detonated as a police convoy passed.

“It was a trap,” Alfaro said, adding that he was temporarily halting police escorts for volunteer search groups.

Those killed in the attack include police officers and prosecutors agents. No members of the volunteer group appear to have been killed.

The incident is the latest to underscore the challenge that criminal groups pose to security in Mexico, where they wield substantial power.

The state where Tuesday late-night explosions took place is home to the Jalisco New Generation drug-trafficking group, a powerful organisation that frequently spars with other criminal groups.

The Jalisco group has been blamed for previous attacks using IEDs and bomb-carrying drones, a testament to the sophistication and deadly ingenuity of such groups.

In 2022, IEDs injured 10 soldiers and killed a civilian in the neighbouring state of Michoacan, and a suspected car bomb wounded several members of the National Guard in the state of Guanajuato last month.

More than 110,000 people remain missing in Mexico, a country where both state forces and criminal groups have long histories of carrying out enforced disappearances and rights abuses.

State security forces are sometimes entangled with the gangs they are tasked with combating. In February, for instance, the country’s former public security chief was found guilty of accepting bribes from drug-trafficking groups.

Tuesday’s attack is a blow to volunteer groups that attempt to locate the disappeared. Many of the volunteers are often mothers and relatives of the missing, and their groups sometimes rely on anonymous tips to find hidden burial sites.

Six volunteer activists have been killed in Mexico since 2021.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies