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Thursday February 29, 2024

Attackers kill 26 in Mexico bar fire

By AFP
August 29, 2019

COATZACOALCOS: Gunmen burst into a Mexican strip club in a hail of bullets and killed at least 26 people as they trapped revellers inside and started a raging fire, officials said on Wednesday.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned the “shameful” attack in the city of Coatzacoalcos, and said federal authorities would investigate evidence it may have stemmed from collusion between local authorities and organised crime.

The Tuesday night attack, which officials said also left 11 people badly wounded, is the latest to rock the state of Veracruz, a flashpoint in bloody turf wars between Mexico’s rival drug cartels and a hotbed of political corruption. Survivors said gunmen sprayed bullets as they descended on the bar, the Caballo Blanco (White Horse), then blocked the exits and set the club alight. Because of the loud reggaeton music pounding inside, many patrons and dancers did not even notice the attack until the bar was in flames, they said.

Authorities said many of the victims died of smoke inhalation. It was not immediately clear whether some died of gunshot wounds. Some survivors said the attackers doused the nightclub in gasoline to set it alight. Others said they threw Molotov cocktails. The interior of the bar was wrecked and charred, with chairs overturned and debris littering the floor.

The naked body of a woman who had been mid-routine was sprawled on the dance floor next to the striptease poles. Outside, anguished relatives cried and embraced as they waited for news, while soldiers, police and paramedics worked the scene.

Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia tweeted that authorities had identified one of the attackers as Ricardo “N” — Mexican law bars the release of suspects’ full names — adding that he was a repeat offender known as “La Loca” (“The Crazy One”).

“There are two things going on here: one is this shameful act by organised crime, the most inhuman thing possible; the other, which is also reprehensible, is a possible conspiracy with the authorities,” he told a news conference.

Veracruz is one of the most violent states in the country. Its location on the Gulf of Mexico coast makes it a strategic route for drug cartels and for human traffickers bringing undocumented migrants to the United States.