Published: Sun, September 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Three killed in Mexico City tourist hotspot, police chase 'mariachi' gunmen

Three killed in Mexico City tourist hotspot, police chase 'mariachi' gunmen

Mexican authorities say four people have been killed and nine wounded in a shooting at the capital's emblematic Garibaldi Plaza, a popular spot for tourists.

The Mexico City prosecutors' office said at least one foreigner was among those wounded in Friday night's attack, which local media said was staged by gunmen dressed as mariachi musicians.

"People were screaming and running", said a disabled woman who sells cigarettes in Garibaldi, shortly after having heard what she thought were fireworks.

Homicides have surged since 2014 in Mexico City, an arts, food and culture hotspot for tourists from around the globe that has been spared much of the drug violence plaguing cartel strongholds, which has even hit resort towns Cancun, Los Cabos and Acapulco.

"I looked quickly at the crime scene and saw several bodies on the ground and I got out".

The identity of the three dead was not immediately clear, but the Milenio newspaper said they were men.

Four of the injured were hurt as the gunmen fled, Mexico City police chief Raymundo Collins told reporters.

More than 200,000 people have been killed or have disappeared since December 2006, when Mexico's government declared war on organised crime.

Five men dressed as mariachi musicians and reportedly armed with rifles and handguns opened fire on the plaza before escaping on motorcycles. A video posted to social media showed a musician at a colourful Plaza Garibaldi restaurant strumming Mexican tune "La Cucaracha" on a harp without pausing as multiple shots loudly ring out nearby.

Officials in the Mexican capital have blamed the rise in crime on drug dealing and protection rackets, while the government claims that at least one of the city's violent gangs is connected to the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.

Garibaldi Plaza borders the gritty Tepito neighborhood, home to the Union Tepito gang that has been extorting businesses across the capital.

Tepito has suffered a wave of violence over the last month after the gang's presumed leader, Roberto Moyado Esparza - or El Betito - was arrested.

Garibaldi, on the edge of the touristy, colonial historic center of Mexico City, is known for seedy strip clubs and dive bars, aside from mariachis.

In 2013, U.S. civil rights leader Malcolm X's grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, was beaten to death near the square after a dispute over a nightclub bill.

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