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Gunmen leave Argentine soccer star Messi a menacing message


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Police gather outside the Unico supermarket, a grocery chain owned by soccer player Lionel Messi’s in-laws, after it was shot at in Rosario, Argentina, Thursday, March 2, 2023. (AP Photo/Sebastian Lopez Brach)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Gunmen left a threatening message Thursday for Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi and opened fire at a supermarket owned by his in-laws in Argentina’s third-largest city, police said.

Nobody was injured in the early morning attack, and it was unclear why assailants would target Messi or the Unico supermarket in Rosario, owned by the family of his wife, Antonella Roccuzzo.

The city’s mayor, Pablo Javkin, lashed out at federal authorities over what he called their failure to curb a surge in drug-related violence in Rosario, located about 190 miles ( 300 kilometers) northwest of the capital of Buenos Aires.

Police said two men on a motorcycle fired at least a dozen shots into an Unico branch in the early hours, and left a message on a piece of carboard that read, “Messi, we’re waiting for you. Javkin is also a drug trafficker, so he won’t take care of you.”

Messi, captain of the national team that won last year’s World Cup for Argentina for the first time in 36 years, has not commented. Messi currently plays for Paris Saint-Germain and spends much of his time overseas, though he often visits Rosario where he has a home in the suburb of Funes.

Javkin, a center-left politician in opposition to the ruling Peronist coalition, appeared to throw suspicion of complicity for the attack on both criminal gangs and federal security officials.

“I doubt everyone, even those who are supposed to protect us,” Javkin said in an interview with a local radio station.

He said the supermarket was in a section of Rosario that has seen frequent crimes, that he has raised the issue in recent meetings with federal and provincial official law enforcement officials, and that no action has been taken.

“Where are the ones who need to take care of us?” Javkin said. “It’s clear that those who have the weapons and have the possibility of investigating the criminals aren’t doing it, and it’s very easy for any gang to carry out something like this.”

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