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2 US government employees wounded by Mexican police

Margarito Perez / Reuters

Mexican marines inspect a bullet-riddled armoured U.S. embassy SUV on a road near the town of Tres Marias, on the outskirts of Cuernavaca on Aug. 24, 2012.

Two U.S. police instructors were accidentally shot and wounded by Mexican police early on Friday after being mistaken for criminals, a Mexican government security official said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Mexican federal police thought the vehicle in which the U.S. officials were traveling belonged to a group of suspected kidnappers they were pursuing and opened fire on it.

"This was all because of a mix-up," the official said.

The incident took place south of Mexico City close to the city of Cuernavaca, which has been ravaged by criminal gangs during the government's conflict with drug cartels.

The car in which the U.S. police were traveling had diplomatic plates and was driven by a Mexican marine, the security official added. The two U.S. officials were in Mexico to help train police, the official said.

A Mexican police official confirmed this version of events, which sparked several conflicting media reports.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico was still checking the reports but could not yet give any details, a spokesman said.

A spokesman for the local government in Cuernavaca said the two wounded people were taken to a nearby hospital.

The Associated Press reported the Americans apparently stumbled into a running gunbattle while they were headed to a military installation on a rural road. After gunmen in several cars fired on the Americans' car, federal police arrived and apparently opened fire as well, according to the AP.

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Roadside shootings have been a feature of the violence linked to drug gangs that has overshadowed President Felipe Calderon's six years in office. Gangs have been known to set up fake military checkpoints to ambush rival groups.

Last year two U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents were shot by hitmen on a major Mexican highway. One of the agents died.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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