ACAPULCO, Mexico: Gunmen launched two nearly simultaneous attacks against federal police installations in Acapulco’s tourist district, sowing panic as people ducked inside restaurants and stores in Mexico’s crime-plagued resort, authorities said Monday (Tuesday in Manila).
A suspect was killed and an officer wounded in the gunfights, which erupted late Sunday (Monday in Manila) outside a hotel housing officers and a federal police building.
During the gunfights, people took cover in bars, restaurants and shopping centers. Soldiers and local police closed off part of the seaside Costera Aleman avenue for several hours.
Videos circulating on social media show people laying on the floor of a restaurant or hiding under tables while gunfire is heard outside.
The city remained on edge on Monday as several shops and around 100 schools closed. A nursing academy suspended classes and urged students to “take precautions and avoid going out if it’s not necessary.”
Hector Astudillo, governor of Guerrero state, which includes Acapulco, said the attacks were a reaction by criminals to the arrest of the suspected local leader of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel.
When it announced the suspect’s arrest over the weekend, the National Security Commission said he was “one of the main generators of violence in Acapulco” due to a dispute with the Independent Cartel of Acapulco.
The suspect, who was not named, was “in charge of ordering several kidnappings, extortion and murders against members of rival groups, in addition to being allegedly in charge of the sale and distribution of drugs.”
The first attack erupted at the Alba Suites Hotel, where federal police officers have been staying since they were sent as reinforcements months ago.
“Without uttering a word, the individuals started an assault with firearms against federal agents, who repelled the attack, forcing (the suspects) to flee the area in several vehicles,” the police said in a statement.
A suspect died in that attack while an officer suffered minor wounds to his left leg and was out of danger, the statement said.
The other attack happened “almost at the same time” when gunmen opened fire against a building serving as the federal police’s base in Acapulco.
The assailants fled after police counter-attacked. The gunmen left behind a vehicle containing documents that will be used in investigations against the port’s criminal groups, the statement said.
No arrests were reported.
Acapulco has become one of Mexico’s most dangerous cities as various drug gangs fight turf wars in the area. Some 325 people have been murdered this year in the city of nearly one million people, according to official figures.
Earlier this month, the US State Department issued a new travel warning for Mexico barring US government employees from visiting Acapulco. They were already banned from most parts of Guerrero.
“After the crisis that we experienced yesterday, we have to go back to normal,” Astudillo told Milenio television.