February 6, 2013

Gunmen rape six tourists at bungalow in Acapulco

It was unclear whether the group of 12 Spaniards who fell prey to the attack had been targeted because of their nationality.

The Associated Press

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State police stand Tuesday at a roadblock in Acapulco, Mexico, implemented as part of stepped-up security efforts after masked armed men broke into a beach home, raping six Spanish tourists who had rented the house.

The Associated Press

click image to enlarge

Mexican navy marines stand at a roadblock due to stepped up security after masked armed men broke into a beach home, raping six Spanish tourists who had rented the house in Acapulco, Mexico, Tuesday Feb. 5, 2013. According to the Mayor of Acapulco, five masked men burst into a house the Spaniards had rented on the outskirts of Acapulco, in a low-key area near the beach, and held a group of six Spanish men and one Mexican woman at gunpoint, while they raped the Spanish women before dawn on Monday. (AP Photo/Bernandino Hernandez)

Still, the attack exposed a dangerous security situation in areas that had been considered safe, such as the laid-back stretch of beach dotted with restaurants, small hotels and homes southeast of the city's center, where the Spaniards had rented a villa.

The five attackers held the group at gunpoint, tying up the six men with phone cords and bathing suit straps, then raping the six women over a three-hour period, authorities said.

The manager of a hotel near the house said he heard shouting just after midnight Monday, but did nothing because he felt it would be too dangerous. The man did not want to give his name for safety reasons.

It was unclear whether the victims had been targeted because of their nationality.

Guerrero state Attorney General Martha Garzon told local media that the attackers' motive was robbery and that they drank mescal they found at the house. The Mexican woman, who is married to one of the Spaniards, "was saved by the fact that she is Mexican," Garzon said.

"She says she identified herself to the (attackers) and asked not to be raped, and they told her that she had passed the test by being Mexican and they didn't touch her," Garzon told Radio Formula.

While some Mexicans harbor resentment against Spaniards dating to colonial times, the victims may have been targeted for other reasons, such as appearance or possessions.

Mayor Luis Walton rushed to apologize Wednesday for his comment the day before that "this happens everywhere in the world, not just in Acapulco or in Mexico."

"Of course, this worries us and we don't want anything like this to happen in Acapulco or anywhere else in the world," he said. "We know this is going to affect our tourism."

Billionaire business magnate Carlos Slim, ranked by Forbes magazine as the world's richest man, proposed a plan last year to rescue Acapulco by building parks and recreational centers there.

Still, it would be a long way from the city's heyday, when Elizabeth Taylor was married in Acapulco, John F. and Jackie Kennedy spent their honeymoon there and Howard Hughes hid out in a suite at the Princess Hotel, a pyramid-shaped icon in the exclusive Punta Diamante, or Diamond Point.

Gallego said it's important for authorities to make arrests soon to prove that those responsible will be punished. State prosecutor Garzon said authorities have strong evidence leading to the culprits.

Given the sheer volume of visitors to such popular destinations as the Caribbean Riviera Maya south of Cancun, Gonzalez said, "we certainly could have some cancellations. But given the number of Spanish tourists, it would not be significant."

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