MONTERREY, Mexico - Police pulled 17 bodies from a well in northern Mexico and 14 of them have been identified as members of a musical band kidnapped by gunmen last week, an official said Tuesday.
Investigators have finished searching the well but are still trying to determine a motive in the killings of the Kombo Kolombia band members and crew, said a Nuevo Leon state official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly on the case.
Kombo Kolombia was playing at a ranch in the town of Hidalgo when 10 gunmen entered the warehouse where the private party was being held Friday and forced 18 musicians and crew members into waiting vehicles.
One of the musicians escaped and led authorities to the well. Officials haven't said how the man was able to get away from his captors.
"We still don't know for sure if (the escape) happened purposely so the whereabouts of these people could be known quickly," Nuevo Leon state security spokesman Jorge Domene told Radio Formula.
A forensic official said Monday the victims, all men, had been tortured but Domene denied that. He said the surviving member told authorities the musicians had been shot one by one.
He said investigators are looking into whether the attack was vengeance by drug traffickers but wouldn't give any other details.
Kombo Kolombia played a Colombian style of music known as vallenato, which is popular in working class neighbourhoods in Monterrey and other parts of Nuevo Leon state. Most of the group's musicians were from the area, except for the keyboard player who is Colombian and had Mexican residency.
The band regularly played on the weekend at bars in downtown Monterrey, capital of Nuevo Leon state. At least two of the bars where they had played had been attacked by gunmen.
Nuevo Leon state, on the border with Texas, has been the scene of a turf battle between members of the Gulf and Zetas drug cartels. The Zetas were hit men for the Gulf cartel until they split in 2010, unleashing their bloody war.