Mexico towns lose power in suspected cartel sabotage act
AFPMORELIA, Mexico--Unidentified assailants armed with guns and Molotov cocktails attacked power stations in a violence-torn western Mexican state Sunday, causing blackouts in 14 towns after the suspected drug cartel attack.
October 29, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
The interior ministry said in a statement that national power company equipment, six fueling stations and a convenience store were targeted in the state of Michoacan, but nobody was hurt.
More than 420,000 people were left without power, including the state capital Morelia, but service was restored to 60 percent of customers late Sunday, said Federal Electricity Commission spokesman Estefano Conde.
Conde said 14 towns were affected, up from 11 reported by the government earlier.
The interior ministry statement did not identify the assailants, and its spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said authorities were investigating the attacks.
But a government official told AFP that authorities suspect that the Knights Templar drug cartel launched the brazen assault to send a message to the population and self-defense forces that have formed in the state.
The attack on the power grid came one day after vigilante groups marched in the town of Apatzingan, a Knights Templar bastion, in a protest that left one person injured.
The cartel accuses the self-defense forces of being backed by their rivals, the Jalisco New Generation cartel.
“I think it's an issue between rival gangs, the Knights Templar and the Jalisco cartel,” the source said on condition of anonymity. “It's a territorial dispute.”
The attacks on the power grid were a “sanction against the people,” the official said. “More than revenge, it was a message that they won't allow people to mess with them.”
Local media reported that five people were killed in Apatzingan on Sunday. More than 77,000 people have been killed in drug-linked violence across Mexico in the past seven years.