Masked gunmen set fire to a public market in the central Mexican city of Toluca on Monday, resulting in the death of nine individuals, according to authorities. The attackers arrived at the market, opened fire, and proceeded to douse a section of the market with a flammable substance before fleeing. Although three of the deceased seemed to be under 18 years old, their identities have yet to be confirmed.
In light of the attack, prosecutors have initiated an investigation into the private security guards who seemingly abandoned their posts during the incident. No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the assault, leaving local authorities searching for leads to unravel the motive behind the violent act.
Toluca, which is located approximately 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Mexico City and serves as the capital of the State of Mexico, is home to nearly a million residents. It is considered part of the greater metropolitan area of the nation’s capital, with many of its inhabitants commuting to work in Mexico City.
Public market fires in Mexico have often been linked to gangs demanding protection payments from vendors. Additionally, disputes between vendors over market space ownership have also been known to lead to such violent acts. State prosecutors stated that one of the primary lines of investigation suggests that the attack could be related to internal conflicts over commercial space possession within the targeted market.
This incident has amplified existing tensions in Toluca, following the recent discovery of dismembered bodies and messages claiming responsibility by the violent Familia Michoacana drug cartel. Although originally based in the neighboring state of Michoacan, the gang has been significantly weakened there and has, as a result, found refuge in the State of Mexico and neighboring Guerrero state.
The Familia Michoacana has gained notoriety for carrying out brutal ambushes on both police forces in Mexico State and local residents in Guerrero state. As investigators in Guerrero confirmed the killing of four taxi drivers and the torching of one of their vehicles over the weekend in and around the state capital of Chilpancingo, it has become evident that the turf war between the Familia Michoacana and rival criminal organizations continues to escalate in Guerrero.
In late June, Chilpancingo experienced a horrifying incident in which the dismembered remains of seven individuals were left on a street along with a menacing message from a criminal gang. Authorities suspect that one of the other rival gangs involved in the turf war may be responsible for the recent killings in Chilpancingo.
Overall, the attack on the public market in Toluca and the continued violence in Guerrero demonstrate the dire security situation and ongoing power struggles between criminal groups in Mexico. As authorities delve deeper into their investigations, they hope to shed light on the motives behind these unsettling acts of violence and bring the assailants to justice.