Suspected drug hitmen attacked soldiers who intended to inspect a cartel safe house in the colonial town of Taxco southwest of Mexico City. Soldiers returned fire, killing the assailants in a 40-minute gunfight, the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The clash followed an ambush by gunmen on a federal police convoy in the western state of Michoacan on Monday that killed 10 officers.
More than 23,000 people have been killed in drug violence since President Felipe Calderon launched his crackdown on the multibillion-dollar drug trade upon taking office in 2006.
Following some of the bloodiest days so far in his term, with scores killed in recent mass shootings, Calderon interrupted television programs Tuesday night to defend his drug war.
“It’s a battle that is worth fighting,” he said in a national broadcast. “We are going to win.”