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Gunmen opened fire at a cockfighting venue in Mexico over the weekend, killing 20 people and wounding four others in an attack that may have been a conflict between criminal gangs, authorities said Monday.
The attack happened late Sunday near the town of Zinapecuaro in Mexico’s western state of Michoacan, the state’s prosecutors said. Three of the dead were women.
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The gunmen appeared to have planned the attack, entering the venue inside a stolen truck owned by a snack food company and using a bus to block those inside from escaping or calling for help.
“The snack food company truck arrived, and several armed people in camouflage clothing got out,” a prosecutors’ statement said. “At the same moment, a bus that was outside the building was used as a blockade.”
Prosecutors said one vehicle that appeared to belong to a victim had stickers with the logo of a criminal gang, adding that drug cartels and other criminal gangs had been fighting in the area.
“There are indications that the attack involved a confrontation between criminal groups,” the federal Public Safety Department said in a statement. It said a team of federal investigators had been sent to the scene.
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Michoacan has been the scene of a long-standing turf battle between local cartels and the Jalisco cartel, from the neighboring state of Jalisco. The fighting has included the use of bomb-dropping drones, landmines and home-made armored cars.
Cock fighting, while illegal in many areas, remains a popular pastime in parts of Mexico, though the fights are usually held clandestinely.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.