Mexico's Calderon berates U.S. after casino attack

Last month, gunmen killed 20 people at a bar in Monterrey. Maria Tomas Navarro, 42, stood weeping at the edge of the police tape stretched in front of the smoke-stained casino building. More than 41, people have died in violence linked to Mexico's organized crime gangs since Calderon launched a military crackdown on them in December , according to media counts and official figures. Why Bill and Melinda Gates put 20, students through college. The state head of civil protection, Jorge Camacho, said that the death toll was so high because many people hid in bathrooms and offices when they heard the explosions instead of heading to the emergency exits, and were trapped by the flames.

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Joe Bruno on the Mob — Mexican Mobsters Casino Attack Kills 53 People.

Armed men killed at least 53 people in an attack on a casino in northern Mexico that left it ablaze with patrons trapped inside, officials said. One survivor said the group of masked gunmen burst inside the Casino Royale in the prosperous industrial city of Monterrey on Thursday afternoon and threatened gamblers, then sprayed gasoline on the carpets and set fire to the place. Another witness said people stampeded after hearing blasts inside the casino shortly after the attackers stormed in.

Many patrons ran to hide in the toilets but died from asphyxiation as smoke engulfed the casino, a rescue official said. Rodrigo Medina, governor of Nuevo Leon state, told the Televisa television network that 53 people were killed, and rescue teams warned the death toll could rise. It was one of the worst attacks in a major Mexican city in many years. Monterrey is a relatively wealthy city of about 4 million people and was for many years seen as a model of economic development but it has been ravaged by violence over the past two years as Mexico's drugs war has escalated.

The authorities commandeered backhoes from a nearby construction site to break through the building's walls to try to reach the people trapped inside. Larrazabal said the casino, in a well-off part of Monterrey, had been closed by the authorities in May for building an extension without a permit, but a judge later granted the owner an injunction to continue operating.

Initial reports said 11 people had been killed, but the death toll climbed as emergency personnel and firefighters searched the building. Medics treated survivors for smoke inhalation. State police officials initially said witnesses reported hearing three explosions before the fire started, but later said a flammable material was used. The reports of explosions may have been the sound of the ignition of the liquid. It was the second time in three months that the Casino Royale had been targeted.

It took firefighters four hours to control the flames, and Medina warned that more bodies could be found inside the casino. Calderon ordered interior minister Francisco Blake to Monterrey to head the government probe into the attack. But Nuevo Leon state and its capital, which is home to four million people, have seen an increasing amount of drug-related violence, with more than 70 people killed in Monterrey last month alone.

Nearly people were killed in the state in the first half of the year, compared to murder victims for all of , according to a tally by the national newspaper Reforma. This entry was posted on September 1, at You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2. You can leave a response , or trackback from your own site.

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