FIFA tournament opens in Mexico as gunmen kill 22


A policeman walks next to firefighters as they extinguish a fire at the Police Station of Guadalupe municipality, Nuevo Leon state, Mexico, after an attack of gunmen, on March 2, 2011.


Dario Leon

Gunmen killed at least 22 people in a string of attacks in Mexico this weekend as the FIFA tournament opened.

The attacks including a shooting at a bar in Monterrey, Mexico's third largest city, late Sunday night. Just hours after the opening of soccer's Under-17 World Cup, gunmen stormed the bar, killed three, wounded another and kidnapped a security agent who was later found dead, a state official told AFP.

Monterrey is a host city for FIFA's Under-17 soccer tournament. It held two matches on Saturday.

Gunmen killed four others, all 25 and under, Sunday morning in the adjacent city of Guadalupe, it states.

(From GlobalPost: The invasion of Mexico's drug cartels)

Another 14 people were killed in the western state of Michoacan, Al Jazeera reports.

The authorities have blamed the deaths on drug-cartel-related violence, it states. A turf war between rival drug cartels has spilled over into Monterrey and Guadalupe, previously considered a near-safe haven, in the past two years.

Some 37,000 people have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a campaign on organized crime in 2006.

Investigative journalist John Gibler told Al Jazeera blaming the drug cartels has become an easy excuse for the government. In fact, he says, cops are often involved in trafficking or crime.

"The violence in the border regions does have to do with the trafficking organisations - and those organizations are all connected to various levels of government on both sides of the border, [but] that battle itself, inside the logic of [drug] prohibition, sets off all other sorts of violence," Gibler said.

"When you have a place like Mexico, where five per cent of all murders are investigated, it creates a climate of impunity where people simply feel like it's easy to get away with murder."