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Border Patrol agent shot dead in Arizona desert

An Arizona police officer and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent patrolled an area near Naco, Ariz. on Tuesday.

MIKE CHRISTY/ARIZONA DAILY STAR/AP

An Arizona police officer and a Drug Enforcement Administration agent patrolled an area near Naco, Ariz. on Tuesday.

BISBEE, Ariz. — A Border Patrol agent was shot to death Tuesday in Arizona near the US-Mexico line, the first fatal shooting of an agent since a deadly 2010 firefight with Mexican bandits that spawned congressional probes of a botched government gun-smuggling investigation.

The agent, Nicholas Ivie, 30, and a colleague were on patrol in the desert near Naco, Ariz., about 100 miles from Tucson, when shooting broke out shortly before 2 a.m., the Border Patrol said. The second agent was shot in the ankle and buttocks, and was airlifted to a hospital.

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Authorities have not identified the agent who was wounded, nor did they say whether any weapons were seized at the site of the shooting.

The last Border Patrol agent fatally shot on duty was Brian Terry, who died in a shootout with bandits near the border in December 2010. The Border Patrol station in Naco, where the two agents shot Tuesday were stationed, was recently named after Terry.

Terry’s shooting was later linked to the government’s Fast and Furious gun-smuggling operation, which allowed people suspected of illegally buying guns for others to walk away from gun shops with weapons, rather than be arrested.

Authorities intended to track the guns into Mexico. Two rifles found at the scene of Terry’s shooting were bought by a member of the gun-smuggling ring being investigated.

Critics of the operation say any shooting along the border will raise the specter that those illegal weapons are still being used in border violence.

The Terry family said that the shooting was a ‘‘graphic reminder of the inherent dangers that threaten the safety of those who live and work near the border.’’

No arrests have been made.

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