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Mexico declares 3-day-mourning for 52 dead, offers $2.5 mln bounty

(Xinhua)

16:47, August 27, 2011

A fireman works inside the damaged Casino Royale in Monterrey, Mexico, Aug. 26, 2011. An armed group broke into the packed Casino Royale, sprayed fuel and set fire, killing at least 53 people and leaving dozens of others injured on Thursday afternoon. (Xinhua/Pedro Mera)

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) - Mexican President Felipe Calderon on Friday declared three days of morning in the wake of an attack on a casino in the northern Mexican city of Monterrey that left 52 people dead.

In a message to a number of television and radio stations, Calderon described the attack as a "brutal and unspeakable homicide" and ordered the country's attorney generals both at state and federal level to vigorously investigate the event and hold those responsible accountable.

The attack occurred late Thursday in Monterrey, Mexico's 3rd largest city and capital of the highly industrialized Nuevo Leon state, when a group of armed men arrived at the casino in several trucks and provoked a fire after throwing gasoline against the building. Most of the victims died from smoke inhalation, authorities said.

Calderon said he was "profoundly saddened and indignant" over what he said was the most serious attack on the civilian population in a very long time, and offered his condolences to the families of the victims of the casino attack. In a separate statement, the country chief Attorney General's office, announced that a bounty worth 2.5 million U.S. dollars is offered for any information that help lead to the capture of those responsible for the deadly incident, in which at least 10 people were also injured.

Calderon said the government will offer all available legal, economic and institutional resources to ensure that those guilty are brought to justice. He appealed to the public to help with the investigation.

"Whoever knows the authors or key members responsible for this barbarity must come forward and inform the justice system," said the president.

He said those responsible are "incendiary murderers and real terrorists" against whom all the weight of the law will be enforced. He also said security in Nuevo Leon state has been re- enforced and security authorities are taking all possible measures to catch the perpetrators.

While no suspect has yet been named, local press point to the growing number of powerful drug cartels and groups of organized crime to be those most likely responsible for the attack in an attempt to intimidate the civilian population and get the government to back down from its chase of the groups.

Over 40,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since Calderon came into power in December 2006 and declared war on the drug cartels and organized crime.

Calderon said the government had an obligation to confront the criminals with the best level of intelligence and efficiency and asked the Mexican Congress to approve laws and reforms that help strengthen the security of all Mexicans and bring an end to corruption in the police, security and justice system.

He criticized the United States for not doing more to reduce drug consumption or control illegal arms trade to Mexico that aid the drug cartels and organized crime groups involved in the narcotics trafficking. Drug trafficking has led to a sharp rise in incidences of brutal violence.

"We are friends and neighbors but the United States are also responsible," said Calderon.

He said that Mexico's border with the United States, the world' s largest drug consuming nation that pays billions of U.S. dollars for the illegal importation of narcotics, makes it more difficult for Mexican authorities to fight the groups involved in drug trafficking.

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