MEXICO CITY — Two people were killed and seven injured after gunmen opened fire on a crowd of vacationers on a beach in Cancun on Thursday, causing many to flee, authorities said.
The violence erupted on Playa Paraiso, a popular beach on the southern end of Cancun, near the crime-plagued area known as Hot Spring.
An officer told ABC News by phone that the victims were civilians. The rest of the people present were tourists from Europe, Japan and Chile, the officer said. The officers’ name was withheld for privacy reasons.
Some witnesses told the AP that nine or 10 people were shot and the attackers had their faces covered.
Witnesses also reported seeing a large number of officers and ambulances after the violence.
Grupo Hoteles de Cancun, the company that manages the area, posted a statement on its website saying that the violence had occurred around 10:45 a.m. “on our Playa Paraiso section.”
The company said there were no further details available.
The incident, however, was the latest in a series of violent attacks on Mexico’s tourist zone in recent months.
It was the second attack on vacationers on Playa Paraiso in two months.
An Associated Press report says it took place at the dawn of New Year’s Day, when a wave of explosions, gunfire and grenades erupted, shattering holiday calm on the beach and sending guests running for cover.
In that incident, nine people were wounded, including three seriously. Mexican police said they had detained an associate of the Jalisco New Generation cartel, one of Mexico’s most violent gangs.
Playa Paraiso, which measures some 190 miles long and has a beach stretching for nearly a mile, is the easternmost section of Cancun.
But violence in Cancun doesn’t occur exclusively in the beach enclave.
Last month, authorities reported that members of the Knights Templar cartel, who are suspected of a 2008 massacre of nearly two dozen ranchers, had broken into a new ranch and had killed 10 people.
In the early afternoon of New Year’s Day, attackers planted explosive devices on the road between Playa Paraiso and Cancun city. Authorities determined that a group of gunmen had fled toward the hotel-chain location.
The gunmen had arrived by car, and the metal pipes placed underneath roads were apparently used as roadblocks, the army said.
“A special team of security forces, with the support of the civilian forces, shortly after that investigated, dismantled and arrested” the gunmen, the army said.
An Army spokesman said it was too early to say if the incident was related to the Jan. 1 attack.
Holiday traffic during the Winter Solstice in early January has been the highest ever, as record numbers of foreign tourists make the 400-mile trip from the United States.
Mexico has received around 1.7 million visitors during January, a 12 percent increase from the same month in 2012, according to official data.
But in recent years, violence, mostly linked to gang turf wars, has spread beyond the country’s border to overseas tourist destinations.
On Jan. 3, nine people were killed in a massacre at a popular Los Cabos beach resort.
In late 2012, 18 tourists were slain in the resort town of Acapulco, a day before Acapulco’s independence from the government of former president Felipe Calderon.