updated 1/15/2008 4:37:44 PM ET 2008-01-15T21:37:44

Gunmen shot to death three Tijuana police officers in a night of bloody violence just south of the border with California, Mexican officials said Tuesday.

In the first attack, Tijuana District Commander Jose de Jesus Arias Rico and his assistant Elbert Escobedo Marquez were riddled with bullets as they traveled in a private vehicle after finishing their shift late Monday, Baja California prosecutors said in a statement.

Hours later, before dawn Tuesday, another district commander, Margarito Saldana, was shot dead while he slept in his home, Tijuana municipal police said. The man's wife was also killed and his daughter was in critical condition at a local hospital.

The violence came after a car chase and shootout Monday afternoon between municipal police and at least two people who allegedly tried to rob an armored car after it made a cash pickup at a bank. One suspect was killed and another was wounded and taken to a hospital under police custody, municipal police said.

Local media reported that police commanders received threats on their radios after the shootout, a common intimidation tactic among gangs of organized criminals.

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