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Nationality spared lone Mexican in tourist rape

– Armed, masked men who raped six Spanish tourists in the Mexican resort of Acapulco spared the lone Mexican woman in the group because of her nationality, adding yet another macabre twist to the case that has further hurt the city’s already battered reputation.

It was unclear whether the group of 12 Spaniards who fell prey to the attack early Monday had been targeted because of their nationality in the three-hour ordeal at a rented house on a tranquil beach dotted with restaurants, small hotels and rental homes. Most of the six men and six women live in Mexico City and were vacationing in Acapulco.

The five attackers burst into the house and held the group at gunpoint, Acapulco Mayor Luis Walton said. They tied up the six men with phone cords and bathing suit straps and then raped the six Spanish women.

Walton said the Spaniards had been “escorted,” apparently under police protection, out of Acapulco on Tuesday.

Guerrero state Attorney General Martha Garzon told local media that the attackers’ motive was “robbery, and to have fun,” and they drank mescal they found at the house after committing the rapes. The lone Mexican woman, who’s married to one of the Spaniards, “was saved by the fact that she is Mexican.”

“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 Spaniards may have been targeted for other reasons, like their appearance or possessions.

Authorities and residents of Acapulco struggled to come to terms with the attack and its near-certain effect on the area’s tourism industry, amid concerns that such violence could affect the draw of other, safer Mexican resorts.

Walton rushed to apologize Wednesday for his comment from Monday that “this happens everywhere in the world, not just in Acapulco or in Mexico.”

“I apologize for having said that,” he said Wednesday. “Of course this worries us and we don’t want anything like this to happen in Acapulco or anywhere else in the world.” He added, “We know this is going to affect our tourism.”

It’s not clear how much interest there was in Acapulco among international tourists even before the Monday attacks, despite a major effort announced last year by business magnate Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man, to rescue Acapulco by building parks and recreational centers.

Oceania and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, some of the last cruise lines making port calls at Acapulco, canceled them in December.

The violence has included drug gang shootouts along the resort’s main coastal boulevard and the dumping of severed heads on city streets.

But the attack exposed a security situation so bad that horrific violence was possible even in areas that appear relatively safe, like the laid-back stretch of beach southeast of the city’s center where the Spaniards rented the house.

Other Mexican resorts continue to welcome tens of millions of international visitors every year, even as foreign tourism has largely vanished in Acapulco.

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