At first, the explosion in late February on a ferry circulating the tourist venues Playa de Carmen and Cozumel in the state of Quintana Roo was blamed on a mechanical failure. However, it has become clear that the incident which injured at least 25 people, among them 7 Western tourists, was caused by an explosive device, confirmed by another, unexploded home-made bomb that was discovered and disarmed a few days later on a ferry of the same company.

Terrorist Tactics

The exact background of the incident remains unclear, while extortion by organised crime groups or connections between the ferry company and corrupt politicians are the foremost explanations. But the incident is remarkable insofar as attacks of this kind, specifically aimed at civilians, have been rare in Mexico, even in light of the recent surge of crime and activities of drug-trafficking organisations in the country.

Travel Warnings for Once Secure Areas

The US Department of State immediately issued a travel warning and prohibited US government employees from frequenting certain parts of Playa de Carmen. Furthermore, the German foreign Ministry issued a travel warning for the centre of Cancún, highlighting that even the state of Quintana Roo, once one of the safest areas of Mexico and most important tourist centres of the country, has also been highly affected by the troubling increase of crime and violence in recent years. Meanwhile, the situation countrywide continues to worsen, with signs of further deterioration in the run-up to the general elections on 01 July. Over 30 candidates for local and regional elections have already been killed in attacks by criminal groups.

Photo credit: TampAGS | License: Creative Commons