A Californian travel blogger was one of two foreign tourists killed at a restaurant in Mexico’s Caribbean beach resort of Tulum during a shootout between suspected gang members.
The two women killed were identified as Anjali Ryot, an Indian national who lived in San Jose, and German national Jennifer Henzold, though no hometown was immediately available for her. Two German men and a Dutch woman were also injured during the shootout late on Wednesday, the district attorney’s office in Quintana Roo state said.
Ryot’s Instagram account features photos and videos of her lounging and smiling in Tulum. It listed her as a travel blogger with 42,000 followers.
The German foreign office issued a travel advisory about the violence, telling its citizens “if you are currently in the Tulum or Playa del Carmen area, do not leave your secured hotel facilities”.
Famed for its ancient Mayan ruins and turquoise waters, Tulum is one of the country’s top tourist destinations, but it has been shaken by turf wars between rival gangs.
Initial investigations indicated the shooting in Tulum’s Mini Quinta entertainment zone was “an armed clash between criminal groups dedicated to the sale of drugs”, the district attorney’s office said in a statement. One of the victims was killed at the scene and another died in hospital, it added.
Tulum’s mayor, Marciano Dzul, told Milenio television that the victims had no known links to the criminals and appeared to have been caught in the crossfire. One of the alleged gunmen had been arrested, he added.
On Friday, the civic group Citizens Observatorio of Tulum posted photos of hand-lettered signs that appeared at a local market in Tulum, signed by a drug gang known as Los Pelones, roughly “the Shaved Heads”.
The sign said the shooting “was a warning, so you can see we mean business”, adding “you either get in line or we are going to continue shutting places down like the Mini Quinta”, an apparent warning to pay extortion demands for protection money.
“We are in control here,” the sign added.
Dzul acknowledged that Tulum was facing a wave of violence linked to rival gangs involved in drug dealing and extortion.
Mexico is plagued by cartel-related bloodshed that has seen more than 300,000 people murdered since the government deployed the military in the “war on drugs” in 2006.
Agence France-Presse and Associated Press contributed to this report