At least 23 people were killed and 13 badly wounded in a fire at a bar in eastern Mexico that is being investigated as an attack, authorities said on Wednesday.
The fire in the city of Coatzacoalcos, which broke out on Tuesday night, “may have been the result of a vile attack,” said a statement from prosecutors in the state of Veracruz, a flashpoint in the bloody turf wars between Mexico’s rival drug cartels.
Media reports said the fire broke out when attackers burst into the bar and threw Molotov cocktails.
“The devious crime of a few moments ago in Coatzacoalcos will not go unpunished,” Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia said in a tweet.
Frantic family members rushed to the bar, the Caballo Blanco (White Horse), looking for their loved ones, said an AFP reporter at the scene.
“I just want to know if he’s OK,” said a mother looking for her son, who worked as a cleaner at the bar, after searching for him in vain at local hospitals.
The interior of the bar was wrecked and charred, with chairs overturned and debris littering the floor. A heavy contingent of police and emergency vehicles gathered outside the building.
Veracruz is one of the most violent regions in the country.
Its strategic location on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico makes it a popular route for drug cartels and for human traffickers bringing undocumented migrants to the United States.
Bloody battles between warring cartels and gangs frequently erupt in the state.
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