Four Mexican police officers and a civil servant were fatally shot by assailants who tried to seize a vehicle they thought was carrying money, authorities in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz said Tuesday.

The gunmen came away empty-handed, however, as the vehicle was on a return journey after the funds had been delivered.

The incident occurred Monday in Tlachichilco, a municipality in the northern part of the state.

Four police officers were escorting an official of the Veracruz government's Social Development Department to deliver funds to various anti-poverty initiatives.

The would-be robbers ambushed the group on a dirt road between the rural villages of Onatal Azteca and Otatitlan and all five occupants of the vehicle died on the spot.

The state official had already handed over the money to recipients in Otatitlan, Veracruz police said. EFE