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11 killed in mass shooting at Christmas party in Mexico: "When they were asked who they were, they started shooting"

Inside Mexican/American gunrunning networks
Inside Mexican/American gunrunning networks 03:12

Editor's note: Authorities in Guanajuato revised the pre-Christmas party death toll downward on Monday, from 12 to 11, and said the attack left 14 people wounded, AFP reported.

Eleven people were killed and another dozen were wounded in an attack early Sunday on a pre-Christmas party in central Mexico, authorities in the state of Guanajuato said. The massacre was one of at least three mass shootings in Mexico over the weekend.

The violence occurred in the town of Salvatierra, reportedly at a hacienda, or ranch, that can be rented out for festivities.

In additio to the deaths, 12 others were wounded have been taken to hospitals, the state's prosecutor's office said on X,

Authorities work at the scene of an attack at a posada, in Salvatierra
Authorities work at the scene where members of an armed group opened fire to partygoers attending a posada, in Salvatierra, in Guanajuato state, Mexico, December 17, 2023. JUAN MORENO / REUTERS

The Tierra Negra foundation, which promotes social projects in the area, said the victims were young people participating in "posadas," religious gatherings that celebrate aspects of the story of Christmas.

A person who was at the party but asked not to be identified for security reasons told AFP that about six men with long guns entered the venue and began circulating among the 100 or so young people gathered at the event.

"We realized they were not invited, and when they were asked who they were, they started shooting," he said.

The victims were "all young acquaintances, admired and very good people. It's a horror what is happening in Salvatierra," Tierra Negra member Carlos Silva wrote on social media.

"I condemn the unfortunate act of violence that occurred in the community of San Jose del Carmen this morning. We are thoroughly cooperating with the prosecutor's office," Salvatierra Mayor German Cervantes posted on Facebook.

Diego Sinhue Rodríguez, the governor of the state of Guanajuato, vowed that authorities would "find the whereabouts of those responsible for this unfortunate event."

"My condolences to the families," he wrote on social media.

Three years ago, in the city of some 90,000, authorities discovered unmarked graves with at least 50 bodies.

Guanajuato is one of the most violent states in Mexico, due in large part to the presence and activity of criminal gangs -- including a pair of feuding drug cartels. Earlier this month, the bodies of five university students were found stuffed in a vehicle on a dirt road in Guanajuato.

For years, the Santa Rosa de Lima cartel has fought a bloody turf war with the Jalisco cartel for control of Guanajuato.

The Jalisco cartel is known for producing millions of doses of deadly fentanyl and smuggling them into the United States disguised to look like Xanax, Percocet or oxycodone. Such pills cause about 70,000 overdose deaths per year in the United States.

At least 7 killed in other weekend attacks

In a separate incident late Saturday about 30 miles away from Salvatierra, four men were shot dead in the city of Salamanca, also in Guanajuato, when attackers on motorcycles arrived at a barber shop and opened fire, local officials said.

Similar attacks have been recorded in recent years in Guanajuato, which this year topped the list of states with the most homicides in Mexico, with 3,029 so far, according to official figures.

Meanwhile, in the Caribbean coast resort of Tulum, three men were shot to death and four people were wounded in an attack at a bar Sunday, authorities said.

Quintana Roo state prosecutors said a preliminary investigation indicated the shooting "may have been a dispute involving retail drug sales, and for that reason the safety of the public and that of our visitors, was never at risk."

But shootouts between local drug gangs in Tulum have killed tourists who were caught in the crossfire in the past.

In 2021 in Tulum, two tourists - one a California travel blogger born in India and the other German - were killed while eating at a restaurant. They apparently were caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between rival drug dealers.

Early this year, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert warning travelers to "exercise increased situational awareness" especially after dark, at Mexico's Caribbean beach resorts like Cancun, Playa del Carmen and Tulum.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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