Gunmen Burst into Birthday Party and Kill 17 While People Were Dancing

Gunmen burst into a birthday party where celebrators were dancing to live music and opened fire early Sunday, killing at least 17 people in an attack that was violent even by the bloody standards of Mexico’s drug war.

The government said the attack, at a party gathering in the northern city of Torreón, appeared to be the work of a drug gang, but officials said they had not determined the possible motive for the killings as of late Sunday.

Among the dead was the birthday honoree, a man whose name was given only as Mota, according to authorities quoted by local media. Mota is the Mexican slang word for marijuana, New York Times reports.

Organizers of the party were a gay group, Milenio said, but the invitation specifically said the event was open to all. Although that raised the possibility of an anti-gay hate crime, most speculation centered on drug traffickers as the assailants.

Violence has surged in Coahuila, a smuggling transit point, and neighboring states as the longtime dominant Gulf and Sinaloa cartels battle the paramilitary Zetas. Mass shootings at clubs, bars, rehab clinics and other sites are now common in once-calm cities such as Torreon, as well as in other more troubled neighboring municipalities, The Los Angeles Times reports.

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