Twelve people were killed in a shooting at a bar in central Mexico on Saturday, local authorities said, with growing cartel violence making the region one of the country’s most dangerous. Police believe Saturday’s attack in Guanajuato state took place when an armed group entered the bar in the city of Irapuato at around 8 pm and opened fire on customers and staff.
At least six men and six women were killed, and three others were injured, the municipal government said in a statement, without specifying the identity of the attackers or their motives.
The body of one victim was found outside next to a motorcycle, while the rest of those killed were discovered inside the bar, police said.
The assailants are being hunted by state police, the army, the prosecutor’s office and the National Guard, the municipal government said.
The attack is Guanajuato’s second mass shooting in less than a month.
In September, armed attackers killed 10 people in a pool hall in the state’s Tarimoro municipality.
And earlier this month organized crime groups massacred 20 people, including the mayor, at the town hall in San Miguel Totolapan, in the nearby state of Guerrero. In a video posted on social media, a man claiming to be a Mexican drug cartel leader that attack was in fact aimed at him.
Authorities say there have been 2,115 homicides in the region between January and August.
Mexico has recorded more than 340,000 murders, most of them attributed to criminal organizations, since the launching of a controversial military anti-drug offensive in December 2006.
Industrial Guanajuato state has become the site of a raging dispute between two rival groups — the Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco New Generation cartels — known for carrying out drug trafficking and fuel theft, as well as other crimes.
The Department of Justice considers the Jalisco cartel to be “one of the five most dangerous transnational criminal organizations in the world.” The cartel’s leader, Nemesio Oseguera, “El Mencho,” is among the most sought by Mexican and U.S. authorities.
The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration told CBS News that the Jalisco cartel is one of the Mexican cartels that are behind the influx of fentanyl in the U.S. that’s killing tens of thousands of Americans.
“Those cartels are acting with calculated, deliberate treachery to get fentanyl to the United States and to get people to buy it through fake pills, by hiding it in other drugs, any means that they can take in order to drive addiction and to make money,” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram told “CBS Mornings.”