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There have been a series of threats directed at police

The officers had been staying at a hotel for their protection

CNN —  

Gunmen killed five police officers and wounded two others in a surprise attack Wednesday night at a home in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, municipal police said.

The victims were at a gathering eating and drinking when the shooting took place, according to police spokesman Adrian Sanchez. The officers were killed a day after local police left the hotels where they had been living since February for their protection.

“Cowardly acts have recently occurred where we have lost the lives of agents of the local police,” Sanchez said of the targeted violence. “Far from terrifying us, we are even more courageous.”

The attack follows a series of threats from the New Juarez Cartel directed at local police and government officials. Over the last week, at least four narco banners were hung throughout the city, threatening police Chief Julian Leyzaola and Mayor Hector Murguía.

Four other people were killed in separate shootings throughout the city on Wednesday, police said.