Drugs gangs blamed for Mexico casino massacre

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Drugs gangs blamed for Mexico casino massacre

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Gunmen have attacked a casino in northern Mexico, setting it on fire and killing at least 53 people trapped inside.

The attack in Monterrey is one of the worst in a major Mexican city in recent years.

A survivor said the armed gang burst into the Casino Royale in the afternoon, threatening gamblers before spraying petrol on the carpets and setting the building ablaze.

Relatives of the missing – most of the victims were said to be women – came to seek information. Rescue teams have warned the death toll could rise.

Monterrey, which lies 230 kilometres from the border with Texas, was for years seen as a model of economic development.

But warring drugs gangs have brought fear and chaos as they fight for control of the lucrative casinos and other businesses, threatening attacks if owners refuse to pay.

President Felipe Calderon called the attack a “barbaric act of terror” and vowed to continue fighting organised crime.

But security consultant Alberto Islas said in reality a lack of investigation allowed the criminals to carry out their violence with impunity.

“At the end of the day, they know nothing will be done about it,” he said.