The U.S. State Department has reiterated its commitment to the safety of Americans visiting or living in Mexico in the wake of a cartel shooting that claimed the lives of at least nine U.S. citizens on Monday.
“The safety and welfare of U.S. citizens abroad is among the Department of State’s top priorities,” a statement from the State Department reads. “When a U.S. citizen is missing or passes away overseas, we engage with local officials at multiple levels and provide all appropriate consular assistance.”
The department’s current travel advisory for the state of Sonora remains at a Level 3, indicating that visitors should “reconsider travel.” It was last updated April 9, 2019.
MEXICAN CARTEL MASSACRE: 9 AMERICANS FROM MORMON OFFSHOOT MURDERED
Those killed on Monday, which include at least six children, belonged to the La Mora religious community in northern Mexico, a decades-old settlement in Sonora state founded as part of an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The group was targeted by gunmen — believed to have been affiliated with a drug cartel — while traveling in a convoy of three SUVs. Alfonso Durazo, Mexico’s top security official, said the gunmen may have mistaken their caravan for a rival drug cartel.
Six more children are believed to have been injured; five were transported to hospitals in Arizona.
MORE: WHAT IS LA MORA?
Despite the State Department not updating its travel advisory for Sonora, or Mexico in general, as of Tuesday morning, the country’s current travel advisory warns citizens to “exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime and kidnapping,” especially in areas of increased risk.
La Mora is located in Sonora near the border of Chihuahua. Both of the Mexican states are currently under a Level 3 advisory. “Violent crime and gang activity are widespread in Chihuahua,” according to the State Department, although the advisory notes that most homicides are committed between organized crime outfits and gangs. “Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents,” the State Department notes.
Sonora, meanwhile, is described as a “key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks.” As the State Department writes, however, northern Sonora — where La Mora was located — “experiences much lower levels of crime than cities closer to Sinaloa and other parts of Mexico.”
The State Department lists further suggestions for Americans traveling abroad in its Mexico Travel Advisory, including precautions to take and areas to avoid.
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A representative for the State Department was not immediately available to comment further on precautions advised for U.S. Citizens traveling abroad.
Fox News’ Danielle Wallace and Caleb Parke, as well as the Associated Press, contributed to this report.