Three men died and two others were when a gunman opened fire at the entrance to Playa Palmilla, a popular beach next to San Jose del Cabo, in north-western Mexico on Sunday (6 August).

The victims were reported to be men who were resting under a palm tree. Their identities have not been confirmed. The two wounded — a man and a woman — were taken to a hospital, prosecutors said.

"We heard the shots and just ran to get somewhere safe. It was automatic weapons fire," a tourist said.

No arrests have been made and the attack caused panic among tourists, witnesses said.

Authorities said the beach was crowded with tourists, both Mexican and foreign, when the shooting started. Police have since evacuated the area.

Increasing incidents of violence

This year alone, more than 230 people have been murdered in Los Cabos. In an unrelated incident, a mass grave with the bodies of 14 people —11 men and three women — was uncovered in the mountainous Valparaiso region recently. Prosecutors said some of the bodies were dismembered and there could be more victims at the site. DNA tests will be carried out on the bodies to determine their identities.

Experts say the latest violence may have been a fallout of the arrest of top drug cartel leaders. The arrest has spawned independent criminal groups that have moved beyond drug trafficking to other crimes like robbery and kidnapping.

More than 186,000 people have been murdered and around 30,000 gone missing in Mexico, since the government deployed the military to fight organised crime in 2006.

According to information obtained by Reforma and cited by the Insight Crime website, Mexico's Attorney General's Office on 2 August said that they are investigating 10 different criminal organisations operating in Mexico City and suburb municipalities within the State of Mexico and Morelos state,

The Reforma's monitoring system also states that between January and July, over 330 drug-related executions were recorded in Mexico City and adjacent municipalities.