Drug boss, journalist among six killed in Mexico bar shooting

Veracruz, home to one of Mexico's busiest ports, has seen a surge in violence linked to organized crime in recent years (AFP Photo/Lucas Castro)

Mexico City (AFP) - Gunmen opened fire on a bar in the Mexican state of Veracruz, killing six people including a local boss of the Zetas drug cartel and a journalist, officials said.

Five men wielding high-power guns burst into the bar in the eastern city of Orizaba, shooting dead journalist Juan Heriberto Santos and Jose Marquez Balderas, a local Zetas boss known as "El Chichi," in addition to four others, the state government said in a statement, citing witnesses.

Two police officers were wounded, one seriously, as officers unsuccessfully tried to chase down the gunmen after the attack.

Two other journalists were also in the bar but were unharmed, officials said.

The editor of the local newspaper where they work, Luis Dominguez, said the two reporters told him the gunmen sprayed Santos with bullets then kicked him in the head "in a tremendous rage" before leaving the bar, a popular hangout with local crime reporters.

Dominguez said one of the gunmen also beat the two journalists from his daily, El Buen Tono, with a bottle. One of the reporters was slightly wounded, he told Radio Formula.

Veracruz, home to one of Mexico's busiest ports, has seen a surge in violence linked to organized crime in recent years.

It is also considered one of the most dangerous states for journalists. Seventeen reporters have been killed there since 2000, according to rights group Article 19.

Also Thursday, seven bodies were found wrapped in blankets between the states of Puebla and Veracruz, a local police source said.

The bodies had bullet wounds, signs of torture and a note of warning attached to two of them, the source said.

The country was shaken two weeks ago by the brutal murder in Mexico City of five people including photojournalist Ruben Espinosa, who had fled to the capital after receiving threats in Veracruz.

Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte, a member of President Enrique Pena Nieto's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), has been accused of threatening journalists.

He gave a statement to investigators Tuesday denying any involvement in Espinosa's death.