Acapulco mayor says regrets comments on rape of six Spanish tourists

MEXICO CITY Tue Feb 5, 2013 6:05pm EST

MEXICO CITY Feb 5 (Reuters) - The mayor of Acapulco on Tuesday apologized for dismissive comments about the rape of six female Spanish tourists by armed men, an unusually aggressive crime against foreigners in the popular Mexican resort grappling with drug cartels.

The women were raped in the early hours of Monday, when the hooded gunmen forced their way into a beach house they had rented and roughed up their seven male companions.

After the incident, Mayor Luis Walton said the rape could have happened "anywhere in the world," and added it hurt the image of the famous resort, one of Mexico's most important tourist destinations.

The comments triggered a media storm, and his office then issued a statement on its website, saying Walton "very much laments the misinterpretation of his comments, which were never intended to hurt the victims or minimize the facts."

Acapulco is the biggest city in the state of Guerrero, which has been increasingly blighted by drug-related violence, prompting some exasperated residents in small towns to form "community police" forces.

Police trucks with heavily armed officers patrol the city, which in its heyday was a magnet for Hollywood stars, but last year was the murder capital of Mexico.

During the incident, which is under investigation by a special sexual crime unit, the assailants also stole laptops, cameras, phones, and about $700 in cash, according to the local attorney general's office.

Officials have not named any suspects and say the victims are in stable condition. (Writing by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Simon Gardner and Eric Walsh)

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