The death toll raises as workers continue to pull bodies after bodies out of a casino in northern Mexico, where a half dozen gunned attackers started a fire that trapped and killed at least 53.
Family members of the victims and survivors gathered outside the Casino Royale after the fire in the northern industrial capital Monterrey, some crying and others yelling at police for providing no information. Later they were allowed to view bodies in the morgue to help identify the victims.
Nuevo León Government Rodrigo Medina confirmed this morning that the death toll in the attack had reached 53. The casino fire in this prosperous city of Mexico is the worst case of drug cartel-related violence and it represented one of the deadliest attacks after the carnage on an entertainment centre in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006. Monterrey is the capital of Nuevo León state.
53 people dead in fire: Victims of drug war & violence in Mexico
Gov Calderon tweeted that the attack was “an abhorrent act of terror and barbarism” that requires “all of us to persevere in the fight against these unscrupulous criminal bands, who are committing terrorism. The mention of “terror” has been a controversial one in Mexico’s drug wars, where Mexican officials have argued hard against terminology suggesting an insurgency. In 2008, many feared that drug traffickers would resort to conventional terrorist methods after grenades were thrown into a crowd gathered for Mexican Independence Day, killing eight and wounding 131. Since then, however, Mexico drug cartels have refrain from large-scale attacks on the public.
Drug cartels battleground Monterrey, Mexico
Attorney General Leon Adrian de la Garza states a drug cartel operating in the vast areas in Northern Mexico was apparently responsible for the attac. Drug cartels, a brutal reality in Mexico, often extort casinos, force the owners to pay them, threatening to attack them if they refuse to pay. Until recently, Monterrey was one of the safest cities in Latin America. But since last year, the city has become a battleground for two of Mexico’s most powerful drug-trafficking organizations, the Zetas and the Gulf Cartel, who are fighting for seizing the control of lucrative local drug markets and significant border drug routes to the U.S.