Mexico City. Three federal police officers were shot and killed on Monday when they tried to arrest drug trafficking suspects at Mexico City’s international airport, officials said.
Airport spokesman Jorge Andres Gomez said the incident took place around 8:50 a.m. in the fast-food area of the airport’s Terminal 2. The identity and location of the suspects was not immediately clear.
“Finding themselves surrounded,” the alleged traffickers “opened fire with their weapons against the federal police,” the Public Security ministry said in a statement.
Two federal police officers died at the airport while another died of wounds in the hospital, the statement read.
Federal and local police cordoned off the area and used airport signs to cover the food court windows.
People at the busy airport area hit the ground and rushed to hide in the bathrooms when the shooting broke out. At least 14 shots were fired, Milenio TV reported.
Some witnesses said that police officers had fired on their colleagues. But witnesses contradicted that report.
“I saw police officers running after another policeman that they eventually shot at,” Alejandro Suarez, who works at a pharmacy near the food court, told AFP.
“They were all police officers shooting at each other, at least people in uniform,” a woman who refused to give her name told Milenio TV.
“We threw ourselves on the ground — there were four civilians shooting at the police,” a female witness who also refused to give her name told radio Formato21.
Another female witness said it took five to 10 minutes for police reinforcements to arrive.
Police did not say if the suspects were men dressed as police officers.
The Ministry of Communications and Transportation issued a brief statement denouncing the “quarrel in an area of open access” of the airport’s Terminal 2.
Airline operations “are carrying on normally and this situation does not in any way affect operations,” the note said, omitting references to any people killed.
Police patrols have increased across the country ahead of Sunday’s presidential election.
Benito Juarez International Airport is located within Mexico City. It is the second busiest in Latin America, handling some 24 million passengers a year. The airport has also been exempt from violence plaguing other parts of the country.
Terminal 2 opened five years ago, a hub for Aeromexico, Chile’s LAN and Panama’s Copa Airlines.