Police force quits after attacks
An entire 20-man police force has resigned in a northern Mexican town after a series of attacks that killed the police chief and five officers over the last three months.
The officers' resignation left the 13,000 people of Ascension without police services, Chihuahua state chief prosecutor Carlos Manuel Salas said. State and federal police had moved in to take over.
The mass resignation appeared to be connected to an attack on Tuesday by gunmen that killed three of the town's officers, Mr Salas said.
It was not the first deadly attack on the police department this year.
In mid-May police chief Manuel Martinez, who had been in office just seven months, was gunned down with two other officers on a nearby highway. The three had been kidnapped a day before police found their bodies riddled with bullets in the back seat of a saloon car.
The town's police force was relatively new.
Angry residents had led authorities to replace the entire force last September after the mob killings of two teenagers who had allegedly kidnapped a girl from a seafood restaurant. People claimed police officers were helping drug gangs.
Mr Martinez, with his new police force, had said he wanted to end the kidnappings and extortions that have terrorised the town where people grow green chilli and cotton.
The new police in Ascension had installed a telescopic camera in the town's plaza that rotated, giving officers at the station the ability to zoom on a site as far as the outskirts of town. In addition, townspeople helped police dig a broad ditch around the town to prevent criminals from escaping on back roads.
Ascension is south west of Ciudad Juarez, the border city across from El Paso, Texas, that is one of Mexico's most violent cities. The state of Chihuahua has had the most murder blamed on organised crime and drug trafficking since the government's anti-drug offensive began in December 2006.