A preliminary report released on Thursday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund revealed that the number of U.S. police officers killed in the line of duty in 2016 has reached a five-year high. According to the report, 135 Police officers have been killed so far this year-- a 10% increase over the total number of officers killed last year.

Racial tensions play significant role

Gun-related incidents were the leading cause of death, with 64 officers killed by gunfire. Of these, 21 were the result of ambush-style attacks-- defined by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund as "any shooting designed to catch police off-guard and put them at a disadvantage."

Five of these deaths occurred in a single incident in July, when several white officers were targeted, stalked and ambushed during a Dallas protest by Micah Xavier Johnson, a heavily-armed sniper who professed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nine other officers were wounded in the ambush-style attack. Less than two weeks later another Black Lives Matter activist, Gavin Eugene Long, opened fire in Baton Rouge, killing three officers and wounding three more.

Tensions between law enforcement and the black community have escalated ever since the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago. Brown's death helped launch the Black Lives Matter movement into the national spotlight-- and number of police officers, black and white alike, murdered in the line of duty, has been increasing ever since.

According to the report, 20 officers were killed in 8 separate multiple-shooting incidents in 2016-- a record that has been tied only once since 1932.

Texas tops list with seventeen slain officers

Other statistics compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reveal that Texas had the highest number of deaths in the line of duty with 17, followed by California (10), Louisiana (9), Georgia (8) and Michigan (6). Of the 135 officers killed this year, 6 were female.

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