A vicious attack on a bar Tuesday night in Veracruz killed 26 people and wounded 13 others, state officials said. Some of the wounded suffered burns to 90% of their bodies.
According to witnesses, the attack occurred at around 10:00pm when between five and six armed civilians entered the Caballo Blanco bar in downtown Coatzacoalcos and began shooting.
The attackers then threw fuel inside the building followed by molotov cocktails before blocking the emergency exits, leaving patrons trapped inside. The dead include 16 men and nine women, many of whom were table dancers employed by the bar.
Veracruz Governor Cuitláhuac García said on Wednesday that the owner of the bar was kidnapped on Saturday and later decapitated, according to evidence that surfaced in a video.
A criminal gang had wanted to sell drugs in the bar, the governor said.
García also identified one of the people responsible for the attack as a man who had been arrested in July and later released.
“Evidence about the deplorable crime in the bar in Coatzacoalcos points to one of the people responsible for the attack as [a man] who was arrested in July, but was released less than 48 hours later by the state Attorney General’s Office,” García wrote in a Tweet.
Veracruz Attorney General Jorge Winckler, who was responsible for releasing the suspect, was appointed by García’s predecessor Miguel Ángel Yunes, and has been a target of attacks by the governor since he took office last year.
In his morning press conference on Wednesday, President López Obrador echoed Governor García’s criticism of Attorney General Winckler, and said he has asked the federal Attorney General’s Office to take over the investigation.
“There’s a problem that needs to be investigated about the actions of the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office,” he said. “We’re asking the [federal] attorney general to take over this issue and carry out a thorough investigation.”
Since the beginning of the year, the Zetas cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel have been fighting for control of Coatzacoalcos.
In April, 13 people died in a similar attack on a party at a bar in nearby Minatitlán.