Gunmen dressed as mariachi musicians have killed three people and wounded seven in downtown Mexico City. Until recently, the city has been spared the violence linked to the crackdown on powerful drug cartels.
Police in Mexico City are hunting for three men dressed as mariachi musicians who fled on motorbikes after shooting dead three people.
In a statement, police said the victims died close to Plaza Garibaldi, a major tourist destination packed with mariachi bars.
At least seven others were injured in the shooting, which local media reported involved more than 60 bullets.
The victims had been at a restaurant when the gunfire erupted at around 10 p.m. local time (03:00 UTC on Saturday).
Independence day weekend
The shootings happened just as the Mexican capital was kicking off independence day weekend celebrations.
"People were screaming and running," said a woman who sells cigarettes in Garibaldi, shortly after having heard what she thought were fireworks. She declined to be identified.
"Nothing like this has ever happened before," said Samuel, a man who added that he had worked for thirty years around the square in one of the world's biggest, most populous cities.
Neither the motive for the attack nor the identities of the gunmen were known, but the area is located near the Tepito neighborhood, where a cartel that is considered the largest criminal organization in the capital operates.
Mexico has been hit by a wave of violence since deploying the army to fight the country's powerful drug cartels in 2006.
Since then, more than 200,000 people have been murdered, including a record 28,702 last year.
Another 37,000 people are reported as missing.
Crime wave in capital worsens
Mexico City has been largely spared from the worse of the violent crime until 2014, when homicide levels surged to record levels.
Police blame much of the capital's crime on retail drug dealing and protection rackets run by violent gangs, though the government says at least one of these has links to a major national trafficking group, the Jalisco New Generation Cartel.
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, US civil rights leader Malcolm X's grandson, Malcolm Shabazz, was beaten to death near the square after a dispute over a nightclub bill.
mm/jm (AFP, Reuters)