Two dozen gunmen burst into a casino in northern Mexico on Thursday, doused it with gasoline and started a fire that trapped gamblers inside, killing at least 45 people and injuring a dozen more, authorities said.
The fire at the Casino Royale in Monterrey, a city that has seen a surge in drug cartel-related violence, represented one of the deadliest attacks on an entertainment center in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.
"This is a night of sadness for Mexico," federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire said in a televised address. "These unspeakable acts of terror will not go unpunished."
Calderon tweeted that the attack was "an abhorrent act of terror and barbarism" that requires "all of us to persevere in the fight against these unscrupulous criminal bands."
Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene said the number late Thursday had risen to at least 45.