A shootout between suspected gang members left two foreign women dead and three injured at a restaurant in Mexico’s Caribbean beach resort of Tulum, authorities said Thursday.
The women killed were from Germany and India while the injured were from Germany and the Netherlands, the district attorney’s office in Quintana Roo state said.
Famed for its ancient Mayan ruins and turquoise waters, Tulum is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, but it has been shaken by turf wars between rival gangs.
The shooting took place on Wednesday evening at a restaurant in the center of the Riviera Maya town, which draws thousands of foreign tourists every year.
Initial investigations indicated that it was “an armed clash between criminal groups dedicated to the sale of drugs,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
One of the victims was killed at the scene and another died in hospital, it added.
Tulum Mayor Marciano Dzul told reporters that the victims had no known links to the criminals and appeared to have been caught in the crossfire.
One of the alleged shooters had been arrested, he added.
Dzul acknowledged that Tulum was facing a wave of violence linked to rival gangs involved in drug dealing and extortion.
“I think these are issues of organized crime that in some way are trying to fight over some area and unfortunately in this case there is collateral damage that affects other people who have nothing to do with it,” he said.
“A team effort must be made to combat this type of violence in Tulum,” Dzul added.
Mexico is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has seen more than 300,000 people murdered since the government deployed the military in the war on drugs in 2006.
While the Riviera Maya, which is also home to the resorts of Cancun and Playa del Carmen, is generally considered safer than much of the country, there has been an increase in violence.
Famous in its heyday as a destination for Hollywood stars, the Pacific city of Acapulco has also become more known in recent years as the scene of bloody fighting between drug cartels.