The military convoy was escorting a wounded suspect in an ambulance when it came under armed attack on the outskirts of Culiacan in the northern state of Sinaloa early Friday.
General Alfonso Duarte told reporters that Guzman’s sons were “very probably” responsible for the pre-dawn ambush. The gunmen reportedly laid in wait for the ambulance before launching their attack with grenades and high-powered guns. They left two military vehicles completely burnt out on the highway and made off with the ambulance. They also freed the suspect, identified as Julio Oscar Ortiz Vega. Five soldiers were killed, while 10 others, including a Red Cross worker, were wounded.
The assault was the worst of its kind on the military since 2015, when drug cartel gunmen in the state of Jalisco shot down an army helicopter with a rocket launcher, killing 10 people. Officials said the brutality of Friday’s attack indicates the ambulance may have been carrying a high-ranking gang member.
“These groups acted with cowardice, in a premeditated manner, and carried out the attack with weapons, with grenades,” while the soldiers had only automatic weapons, Duarte said.