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Mexican drug cartel massacre caught on camera; authorities order probe

Investigators search the site where more than a dozen people are believed to have been killed, in San José de Gracia, Michoacán state, Mexico. (AP Photo)

The mysterious killing of 17 people in Mexico’s Michoacán state has shocked people in the North American country, prompting local authorities to order an investigation into the gruesome incident.

The incident came to light after a ghastly video showed armed men storming a funeral in the town of San Jose de Gracia, some 200km west of Morelia, the state capital of Michoacan, during the weekend.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador on Monday hoped “with all of his soul” that the events were not true as the chief prosecutor’s office investigates what happened.

“We still don’t have all the information,” Lopez Obrador said at a press conference, adding that shell casings were found but no bodies.

Mexican media reported that mourners were killed in the town where battles between rival Mexican drug cartels have led to an alarming surge in violence in recent years.

The Michoacan chief prosecutor’s office late on Sunday said the crime scene appeared to "have just been cleaned" before their arrival but bullet holes in two cars and a motorcycle and multiple bullet casings were strewn across the road suggested a shooting had taken place.

Ejecutan a 17 personas quienes se encontraban en un velorio en San José de García , Michocán. ¡17 ejecutados!

— Azucena Uresti (@azucenau) February 28, 2022

The prosecutor's office has not yet officially confirmed any deaths but local security officials said they feared as many as 17 people could have been killed.

The viral video on social media appears to have been recorded by a neighbor through a window, showing a group of people lined up against a wall to be killed.

The video shows gunmen pointing their rifles at the mourners until the person filming the incident hides for a couple of seconds.

When the video turns back to the same spot on the street, the people can no longer be seen there, with only smoke and dust filling the air.

It is not the first time that a funeral ceremony has become the scene of a deadly killing in Mexico this year. Targeting funerals has become part of the violence in recent years in the North American country.

Earlier this month, nine people were killed in the northern border city of Ciudad Juarez in a single day when gunmen targeted a funeral ceremony.

In January last year, gunmen barged inside another funeral in the central Mexican city of Celaya and killed nine people.

Local media, citing official figures, said that in 2021 the state of Michoacan ranked third in the country for the highest number of homicides, with 2,732 murders.

Overall, Mexico registered 33,308 homicides in 2021, after the two most violent years in its history; 34,554 murders were reported in 2020 while 34,690 took place in 2019.

The country is filled with American weapons as cross-border trafficking has created a growing pool of weapons that circulate among armed groups in there.

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