Gunmen opened fire in a crowded bar in the Mexican resort city of Playa del Carmen, killing seven people, authorities and media reports said Monday, in the latest violence to rock the country's tourist-magnet beaches.
"Six people lost their lives at the scene, and a seventh subsequently died while being taken to the hospital," the public security minister for the state of Quintana Roo, Alberto Capella, told TV network Televisa after the Sunday night attack.
Local media reports said the bar was about 10 minutes from the center of the main tourist zone, and was packed with revelers at the end of the Epiphany holiday weekend.
The resort is midway between Cancun, to the north, and Tulum, to the south, in the coastal state of Quintana Roo, which has seen homicides more than double in the last year, with 688 killings in the first 11 months of 2018, compared to 322 in the same period of 2017. At that rate, Quintana Roo could end 2018 with a homicide rate of about 50 per 100,000, on a par with El Salvador.
The Caribbean coast — especially Cancun and the area south known as the "Riviera Maya" — had long been largely spared the drug violence affecting other areas, but that no longer appears to be the case. Local sources report that the feared Jalisco cartel has moved into the region, disputing control with local gangs.
In September, two Mexican marines were found stabbed to death in Cancun. In a single day in August, police found eight bodies strewn on the streets of Cancun.
In January 2017, gunmen attacked the state prosecutors' office in Cancun, killing four people. A day before that, a shooting at a music festival in Playa del Carmen left three foreigners and two Mexicans dead.
Capella said the latest incident bore the hallmarks of a drug cartel hit, but authorities have yet to arrest any suspects.
Mexico has been swept by a wave of violent crime since the government deployed the army to crack down on drug cartels in 2006.
Since then, more than 200,000 people have been murdered, including a record 28,711 in 2017. Preliminary figures indicate the homicide record was broken again in 2018.
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