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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 December 2018

Gunmen dressed as mariachis kill four in Mexico City tourist plaza

The plaza is one of Mexico City's most popular tourist attractions

Crime scene workers cover the bodies of victims of a shooting in Garibaldi Plaza, in Mexico City. AP 
Crime scene workers cover the bodies of victims of a shooting in Garibaldi Plaza, in Mexico City. AP 

Gunmen, dressed as mariachi musicians, opened fire in Mexico City's famed Plaza Garibaldi, killing four people and wounding nine others including a foreigner, police said on Saturday.

The five assailants opened fire with rifles and handguns shortly before 10 pm local time on Friday as the downtown plaza was filled with people gathering to commemorate the launch of revolt against the Spanish rule early in the 19th century.

The shooters fled on three motorcycles, the Mexico City prosecutor's office said.

The music and partying continued even after the city's chief of public security, Raymundo Collins, showed up at the crime scene, video footage broadcast on TV showed.

Investigators later found 60 empty bullet casings on the ground. "Four people have died, among them a woman. And nine are wounded, including a woman, as well as a foreign man," read a statement Saturday from the prosecutor's office.

Mr Collins described the attack as a targeted hit. No details were released on the identity of the foreign victim.

Investigators have not given a motive for the shooting, but did say that two of the slain men, ages 36 and 46, had been previously convicted for robbery, while the older individual had also been convicted of drug trafficking charges.

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Eventually the

plaza – one of Mexico City's most popular attractions – and outlets in the nearby streets emptied as news spread.

Police patrol vehicles were parked outside venues usually bursting with customers seeking to pay mariachi musicians to perform. Mariachi is a style of group music performances that originated in western Mexico.

Mexico's capital has been relatively safer from the organised crime-related violence afflicting other parts of the country.

Most targeted reprisals have taken place on the city outskirts or in areas where criminal gangs operate.

Plaza Garibaldi is located near the notorious Tepito neighborhood, where a local gang that distributes drugs in the sprawling capital of 21 million is based. Police have linked that gang to larger cartels such as the Jalisco New Generation.

Mexico has been hit by a wave of violence since deploying the army to fight the country's powerful drug cartels in 2006.

Since then, more than 200,000 people have been murdered, including a record 28,702 last year.

Another 37,000 people are reported as missing.