At least 20 people have been killed in the town of Las Tinajas in Michoacan in what President Lopez Obrador described as "a massacre by one group against another."

Michoacan is one of Mexico's most violent states due to clashes between rival gangs involved in drug trafficking.
Michoacan is one of Mexico's most violent states due to clashes between rival gangs involved in drug trafficking. (AFP)

Gunmen have killed at least 20 people at a clandestine cockfighting ring in Mexico, in what President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador described as a "massacre" involving rival criminal gangs.

The President’s comment on Monday followed Sunday night’s attack in the town of Las Tinajas in Michoacan, a western state plunged into violence by turf wars between rival drug cartels.

The attorney general's office said the lifeless bodies of 16 men and three women were found at the scene, all bearing gunshot wounds.

An additional person died on the way to hospital, while another five were being treated for injuries, it later said.

Michoacan's public security office said authorities were working to track down those responsible for the shooting at the venue, used for cockfighting, concerts and dancing.

Lopez Obrador said that the attack was "a massacre by one group against another."

The perpetrators "came and shot the attendees and unfortunately there were many deaths," he told reporters.

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Spiral of cartel-related bloodshed

Mexico has been trapped in a spiral of cartel-related bloodshed since 2006, when the government launched a controversial anti-drug operation with federal troops.

The violence has since claimed more than 340,000 lives, most of them lost to organised crime, according to official figures.

Michoacan is one of Mexico's most violent states due to clashes between rival gangs involved in drug trafficking and other illegal activities.

Several powerful drug-trafficking gangs such as the Jalisco New Generation and Los Viagras cartels operate in Michoacan and battle each other for control of strategic territory.

Last month, an armed attack in the state was reported to have killed up to 17 people at a wake - in what authorities believe was a "revenge" raid by one cell of the Jalisco New Generation cartel against another.

Also in March, the mayor of the Michoacan municipality of Aguililla, Cesar Valencia, was shot dead.

In 2021, Michoacan suffered 2,732 murders, a little more than eight percent of the 33,315 murders recorded across Mexico that year.

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Source: AFP