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25 killed as attackers ignite fire in Mexico bar

25 killed as attackers ignite fire in Mexico bar

Coatzacoalcos (Mexico): At least 25 people were killed and 11 badly wounded when gunmen burst into a strip club in eastern Mexico, doused it with gasoline and ignited a raging fire, officials said Wednesday.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned Tuesday night's "shameful" attack in the city of Coatzacoalcos, and said federal authorities would investigate evidence that it may have stemmed from collusion between the state prosecutor's office and organised crime. The attack is the latest to rock the state of Veracruz, a flashpoint in bloody turf wars between Mexico's rival drug cartels and a hotbed of political corruption.

Survivors said gunmen descended on the bar, the Caballo Blanco (White Horse), in a hail of bullets, blocked the entrances and set the club alight. But because of the loud reggaeton music pounding inside, many patrons and dancers did not even notice the attack until the entire bar was in flames, they said.

"They arrived in several vehicles, with rifles and pistols. They threatened the security guards at the door and took control of the main entrance," one survivor told an AFP reporter, speaking on condition of anonymity, as frantic family members rushed to the bar looking for their loved ones.

Veracruz Governor Cuitlahuac Garcia tweeted that authorities had identified one of the attackers as Ricardo "N" — Mexican law bars the release of suspects' full names — adding that he was a repeat offender known as "La Loca" ("The Crazy One"). The suspect was previously arrested last month, but was released by prosecutors within 48 hours, Garcia said, vowing that "this vile crime... will not go unpunished."

President Lopez Obrador said federal authorities would investigate why the suspect had been released, and whether there was a conspiracy between the state prosecutor's office and organised crime.

"There's a problem there that needs to be investigated regarding the actions of the Veracruz prosecutor's office," he told a press conference.

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