At least 53 people were killed in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey when a gambling casino was attacked by suspected gunmen who threw grenades, fired gunshots and burned the place.
The attack took place at Casino Royale of Monterrey in the estate of Nuevo León on Thursday at about 15:00 hrs. Rescue workers toiled during the evening and continued all night to find the victims many of which, according to reports from Mexican media (in Spanish), are women and seniors who usually bet at the casino at that time of the day.
Initially, Jorge Camacho, civil protection director of the state of Nuevo León, had reported 22 dead, but had warned that the number could rise. The new figure of 53 deaths was provided by Rodrigo Medina, governor of Nuevo León who warned that this number may go up since there may be 15 or 20 additional bodies in locations of the burned casino which rescue workers had not reached yet.
Mr. Camacho explained that when the attackers fired the people ran to bathrooms to protect themselves not knowing that the gunmen were going to set the place on fire. That caused many to die from smoke inhalation. Firefighters and rescuers had to break the walls with heavy machinery to rescue people and corpses trapped in the casino.
The casino is owned by the Royale Group, which has several other casinos in the cities of Monterrey, Mazatlan, Los Cabos and Escobedo.
The damaged casino opened less than four years ago. It was a two-storey building. On the first floor there was a large bingo space for up to 250 people. The second floor operated poker tables, slots, roulette and sports betting.
Police investigators suspect that the attack could be connected to drug wars which recently had moved to the city of Monterrey.