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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security confirmed Tuesday evening that two Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were shot in the line of duty Tuesday while driving on a Mexican highway about 200 miles outside of Mexico City. The shooting incident left one agent dead and the other was reportedly in stable condition after being shot in the arm and leg

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According to a statement from ICE, the agents had been assigned to the ICE Attaché office in Mexico City and were on their way to Monterrey.

Unnamed sources told the Los Angeles Times that the agents were shot when their vehicle was stopped at a road blockade set up by local drug traffickers:

There were conflicting reports on exactly where in Mexico the agents were shot. But the sources said they were apparently caught in the kind of "narco-blockade" that traffickers and their henchmen routinely set up in cities they are fighting to control, either to block law enforcement or to impede their enemies' movements.

U.S. officials have only rarely been victims in Mexico's ruthless drug wars, in which more than 34,000 people have been killed in four years.

"ICE is working with the U.S. State Department, Mexican authorities and other U.S. law enforcement partners to investigate the shooting," the agency said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with our colleagues."

The identities of the "special agents" have not yet been released.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano offered her personal condolences in the following statement, released Tuesday evening:

“I’m deeply saddened by the news that earlier today, two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) special agents assigned to the ICE Attaché office in Mexico City were shot in the line of duty while driving between Mexico City and Monterrey by unknown assailants.

One agent was critically wounded in this attack and died from his injuries. The second agent was shot in the arm and leg and remains in stable condition.

U.S. law enforcement agencies are working closely with Mexican authorities who are investigating the shooting to ensure the perpetrators of this unconscionable crime are captured as quickly as possible.

Let me be clear: any act of violence against our ICE personnel – or any DHS personnel – is an attack against all those who serve our nation and put their lives at risk for our safety. The full resources of our Department are at the disposal of our Mexican partners in this investigation. We remain committed in our broader support for Mexico’s efforts to combat violence within its borders.

I ask that you join me in praying for our fallen and wounded colleagues.  Please keep them, and all our DHS personnel serving abroad or in harm’s way, in your thoughts.”

The BBC notes that the area where the shootings took place is known for "illicit activity":

The attack comes as a US report suggests that one fifth of the US border with Mexico - some 375 miles (600km) - is not adequately guarded.

The investigative arm of Congress, the General Accounting Office, said the area lacked enough border agents to stop illicit activity such as gun running and illegal immigration.

This is a developing story...

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