Ten people were shot to death and another five were wounded in an attack at a bar in Mexico’s central state of Guanajuato over the weekend, officials said.
The attack took place after 11 p.m. local time on Saturday at the El Estadio bar, when a group of armed men burst in and opened fire at customers and employees of the bar along a highway that connects the cities of Celaya and Queretaro.
The current death toll is seven men and three women, officials said.
Guanajuato, a prosperous industrial region and home to some of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations, has become the country’s bloodiest state.
In October, 12 people were killed in a shooting at another bar in Guanajuato. And the month before that, armed attackers killed 10 people in a pool hall in the state’s Tarimoro municipality.
Two cartels, Santa Rosa de Lima and Jalisco Nueva Generation, are fighting deadly turf wars in the state, where they are known to conduct drug trafficking and fuel theft. The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration told CBS News that the Jalisco cartel is one of the Mexican cartels behind the influx of fentanyl into the U.S. that’s killing tens of thousands of Americans.
Despite the violence, Mexico’s president claimed that his country is safer than the United States, a week after a kidnapping resulted in the deaths of two U.S. citizens and the rescue of two others in the border city of Matamoros.
President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said U.S. travel warnings and reports of violence in Mexico were the result of a conspiracy by conservative politicians and U.S. media outlets to smear his administration.
Despite López Obrador’s assurances that Mexico was safe for travel, the FBI confirmed last week that three other women from the small Texas town of Peñitas have been missing in Mexico since late February.
“Mexico is safer than the United States,” López Obrador said Monday at his morning news briefing. “There is no problem in traveling safely in Mexico.”
Mexico’s nationwide homicide rate is about 28 per 100,000 inhabitants. By comparison, the U.S. homicide rate is barely one-quarter as high, at around 7 per 100,000.
The president brushed off continued concern over violence. Currently, the U.S. State Department has “do not travel” advisories for six of Mexico’s 32 states plagued by drug cartel violence, and “reconsider travel” warnings for another seven states.
“This is a campaign against Mexico by these conservative politicians in the United States who do not want the transformation of our country to continue,” López Obrador said.
The Mexican president included U.S. media outlets in the supposed conspiracy.
“These conservative politicians … dominate the majority of the news media in the United States,” he said. “This violence is not a reality,” he added. “It is pure, vile manipulation.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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