U.S. closes consulate in Mexico due to security threat

By Susan McFarland  |  March 8, 2018 at 7:36 AM
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March 8 (UPI) -- Citing a security threat, the U.S. Department of State has closed a consulate in the Mexican tourist town of Playa del Carmen and barred employees from traveling there.

The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City posted the notice on its website Wednesday for the popular coastal spot near Cancun and Cozumel on the Caribbean.

The warnings came after a bomb exploded last month and injured at least 25 people on a ferry that runs between Playa del Carmen and Cozumel.

Initial reports had indicated the explosion was caused either by a gas leak or engine failure, but a security alert posted on the U.S. Embassy website said the blast was caused by an explosive device. The alert also said undetonated explosive devices were found last week by Mexican law enforcement on a tourist ferry that operates on the same route.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told ABC News the agency will provide more updates Thursday.

"We take our obligation to provide information to U.S. citizens seriously as evidenced by the clear, timely and reliable safety and security information we release worldwide," Nauert said.

Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line canceled all shore excursions involving ferries in Cozumel following the warning.

Playa del Carmen and other tourist regions have seen a surge in violence in recent months. Last summer the State Department warned people traveling to Mexico about the possibly of tainted alcohol that led to serious illness and even death for some travelers.

Travelers have also reported being "sexually assaulted, beaten, robbed, taken to jail and mistreated at local hospitals," according to an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which also found that travelers encounter indifferent, and at times hostile, resort workers, police and hospital staff.

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