Gunmen opened fire at a drug rehabilitation center in central Mexico on Wednesday, killing at least 24 people and wounding seven.
Preliminary reports said the assailants "entered the scene, forced [the victims] on to the ground and shot them," according to Pedro Cortes, secretary of public security in the town of Irapuato, where the attack occurred. The attack was also confirmed by federal officials.
"We have reports that the (armed) subjects arrived in a red vehicle. No further information is known. The preliminary report we have is of 24 dead people and seven injured," he said, adding that authorities were working to locate the vehicle.
Violence and organized crime are common in the state of Guanajuato, where Irapuato is located. The state boasts a significant energy sector as well as industry and several automobile manufacturing plants.
These have attracted powerful drug cartels that engage in extortion, kidnapping and fuel theft in the area.
Rehab centers hit in drug turf wars
On June 6, 10 men were killed by gunfire at a rehabilitation center for addicts in Irapuato. It was not immediately clear whether it was the same facility that was attacked on Wednesday.
In the past, rehabilitation centers have been targeted by criminal gangs during turf wars for control of the drug businesses.
Responding to the latest attack, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said his government would not allow the country "to fall into anarchy and disorder."
The attack was one of the worst slayings since the president took office in 2018 on a platform of reducing record levels of violence in Mexico.
However, homicides were at a record high last year and have gone even higher in 2020.
kp/sms (AFP, Reuters)