The El Rey was crowded with people and was burned down, police said

Gunmen kill 12 people in Mexico bar shooting

JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Gunmen killed 12 people and wounded several others early Saturday in a crowded bar in southern Mexico and then burned it down, authorities said.

The victims were three men and nine women, all of Mexican nationality, the state attorney general’s office said. The attackers had driven up to the bar with automatic weapons and then left after a series of explosions and gun shots, authorities said.

Earlier in the night, a man who drove up with the gunmen arrived at The El Rey and the attackers fired shots at it, killing an acquaintance, state police spokesman Ricardo Rodriguez says. A second employee said the assailants then jumped on top of the bar.

By 10:45 p.m. (7:45 a.m. EDT), authorities said three bodies had been recovered and six had been taken to the hospital. Two of the victims were missing and feared dead.

The El Rey was crowded with customers — many of them foreigners and many of them in their 20s and 30s — at a time on the weekend when the bars of Mexico, including those in the capital, generally see few patrons, security video shows. That included the El Rey, a short drive from the sprawling city of Veracruz, where President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took office about six months ago.

The El Rey is about 40 miles north of Veracruz.

The bar had played a central role, after all, in the election victory of Lopez Obrador.

But the authorities said they feared the attack in the small but densely populated state of Veracruz was a plot by some of Lopez Obrador’s most vocal critics, who may be considering retaliation for Lopez Obrador’s election.

The president won the majority of Veracruz’s 4.6 million registered voters, by a margin of just under 4 percentage points. His critics said the election was marred by fraud — charges Lopez Obrador denies.

Earlier Saturday, a similar attack at a crowded bar at night in the city of Celaya left a dozen people dead and injured five others, police said.

In separate attacks in the

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