MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico is investigating reports that around 17 people were executed after gunmen barged into a funeral wake over the weekend and dragged mourners away to be killed, Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Monday.
A video widely-shared over social media showed a group of people lined up against a wall, most of them holding their hands behind their heads, before apparently being shot by a barrage of bullets fired by surrounding gunmen.
Mexican media reported the mourners were killed in the town of San Jose de Gracia, some 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Morelia, the state capital of Michoacan, where turf battles between rival drug cartels has sent violence soaring.
The Michoacan chief prosecutor’s office (FGE) late on Sunday said no bodies have been found, but investigators discovered firearms cartridges at the site where the video was suspected to have been filmed as well as “cleaning products” in a bag, saying the “site had recently been washed”.
Lopez Obrador urged patience for the FGE investigation to unearth the facts behind the events, saying that he hoped “with all of his soul” that the events were not true.
“We still don’t have information,” Lopez Obrador added in his daily morning press conference on Monday morning.
The video shared on social media appears to have been filmed by a nearby neighbor through a window with a high vantage point, showing a group of people lined up against a white wall.
Several gunmen are seen pointing rifles at the purported mourners until gunfire prompts the person filming to hide for a couple of seconds.
When the uninterrupted video returns to show the same spot on the street again, the purported mourners can no longer be seen and there is only smoke and dust rising in the air.
In recent years targeting funeral wakes has become part of the internecine violence that has plagued certain parts of Mexico, where cartels battle for control of trafficking routes and territory to extort residents.
Earlier this month nine people were killed in a single day when gunmen in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez killed three people at a wake of a man who died in prison, and then another six at the same man’s funeral later in the day.
In January last year, gunmen burst into a wake in the central Mexican city of Celaya and shot dead nine people.
(Reporting by Raul Cortes; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel)