ACAPULCO, Mexico (AP) - Soldiers fought for two hours with armed
men apparently holding police hostage at a house in Acapulco, leaving one soldier and 15 gunmen dead, a military official said Sunday.
Three soldiers and three Mexican bystanders were wounded. Several Mexican tourists were evacuated from small hotels in the old Acapulco neighborhood, which was once popular with Hollywood stars but has since become run-down.
The gunbattle erupted Saturday night when soldiers received a tip about the presence of armed men at a gated house, said an army colonel who led the operation and spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
The gunmen opened fire and hurled some 50 grenades at soldiers who arrived at the house, according to the colonel, who wore a ski mask as he led reporters through the scene.
Several gunmen tried to flee, but crashed their car into a Humvee blocking the gate. At one point during the fighting, armed men with grenades arrived in a car to reinforce the gunmen in the house, but they died in the shooting, the colonel said.
Soldiers found four Guerrero state police officers handcuffed inside the garage of the house, the colonel said. The officers, who were still bound and sitting the floor when reporters arrived, said they were being held captive by the gunmen, the colonel said.
The soldiers did not know the police were inside when the shootout began, and the colonel said their claims would be investigated.
"We found them like this, handcuffed, and they say they were kidnapped. So, if they were kidnapped, as they say, then we rescued
them," the colonel said, pointing to the four men.
Residents cowered inside their homes and several small, low-cost hotels while the fighting lasted.
When the shooting subsided, several people too scared to stay in the area were evacuated in an ambulance.