Assailants early Sunday blew up at least twelve electrical power plants in Michoacan in one of Mexico's most troubled states, triggering blackouts that gunmen then used as cover to torch gasoline stations, residents and authorities said.The attacks in Michoacan state, west of the capital, did not cause deaths or serious injuries, authorities said. But they served as a pointed reminder of the strength of drug gangs and other criminals.
|CFE in Sahuayo|
|CFE in Sahuayo|
Simultaneously, groups attacked four gas stations in Morelia, one in Apatzingán and another in Patzcuaro, Michoacan, again without any injuries.
Gunmen then torched four gasoline stations, and two in the state capital of Morelia, a popular tourist destination. a pump was burned down in Francisco I. Madero de Apatzingán Avenue and another on the Morelia-Uruapan Highway, 10 kilometers from Patzcuaro, where there was also damage to a convenience store.
The delegation of the Attorney General's Office (PGR) reported that a damage was detected 18 electrical substations, 6 gas station Michoacan and Morelia, as well as there were water facility attacks in Morelia. The mechanical, electrical, operating system for the treatment of drinking water was damaged at the Mintzita Spring. At the Morelia in Salamanca, Guanajuato, where an important plant is located, the aggressors didn't detonate bombs against any mechanism, but more than 100 petrol bombs were found at the scene.Along with the attacks to on the CFE electrical plants, the attacks affected the operation of 14 wells in Morelia. There was damage to the water treatment plant of La Mintzita, which supplies water to 35 per cent of the population, This led to several colonias not receiving water on Sunday, said a water, and sanitation and sewerage official. Augusto Arriaga Caire, director of water utility and waste water(OOAPAS) reported that after the power outage in 14 wells and Mintizita treatment plant for a period of 16 hours, energy was restored at 18:00 hours on Sunday, and immediately began trial assessment investigation including computer synchronization, in order restart and restore water service in the city of Morelia.
Michoacan for years has been controlled either by the Knights Templar or its predecessor La Familia Michoacan cartels that specialize in methamphetamine distribution to the United States and have controlled many city halls and police departments.
More recently, groups of citizens have taken up weapons forming self defense groups to protect communities from CT infiltration and domination.
MILENIO consulted state and federal sources who estimated 420, 000 people were left without electric power for about 18 hours, up to seven in the evening. The service in some affected areas was restored 95 percent.The assaulted CFE electric substations are located in Morelia, Apatzingán, Zamora, La Piedad, Ciudad Hidalgo, Uruapan, Sahuayo Tarímbaro, Zinapécuaro, Queréndaro, Tuxpan and Aguililla.
The first calls for help were received by the Michoacan emergency services at 11:45 am Saturday, and the last at 3:07 pm on Sunday, all were anonymous.
The only case where there was a confirmed exchange of gun fire during these fire bombings was in Morelia between security guarding the government electric facilities and the assailants. The firefight lasted about ten minutes.
After the confrontation and the flight of the suspects, on a sidewalk authorities found boxes with a total of 131 petrol bombs.
Simultaneously, other groups attacked petrol stations in Morelia, one in Apatzingán and another in Patzcuaro, again without any injuries.
Mexican Army troops and Federal Police, supported by state troopers, activated a special safety protocal, both to try to to protect power generating facilities in the area and to locate and catch the suspects.
Federal authorities said they were sending hundreds of police and military troops to reinforce security in the region. The attacks came two days after the state's governor, Fausto Vallejo, resumed duties after a long illness leading some to wonder if it was a protest of some sort.
Local Government Secretary Jaime Mares, revealed that the federal government offered full backing to Michoacan to strengthen security, and said a coordinated action will restore power supply in all the affected areas.
In an interview with Oscar Mario Beteta, for Radio Times, the state official said they can not say whether the attack was a result of a drug war and self-defense groups.
- Should the attack in principle be considered terrorist?
- Are other groups involved like "Familia Michoacana", "Zetas", "Nueva Gente", besides the "Knights Templar"?
- At this time we can not make claims of this nature, since investigations have just started a few hours ago.
On the possibility that the attacks are related to the rise to power of Fausto Vallejo, Jaime Mares said that there is no relationship.
"Naturally they are events that have nothing to do with it, unfortunate facts but they have no relationship," he said.
|Gas station in Morelos, Morelia|
Hours later, the delegation of the Attorney General's Office announced a preliminary investigation has been underway since the early morning in order to determine who commissioned and perpetrated these crimes, the state attorney shall assist in the field.
In a telephone interview with MILENIO, Gerardo Rodríguez Sánchez-Lara, an expert on terrorism and national security, said that these offenses of sabotage have the potential ingredients of of terrorism,he asked that the government of Michoacan not underestimate their severity..
The advisor also the Department of Defense and Semar considered these attacks may be due to the actions undertaken by preventive and enforcement authorities, which has been accused of exhibiting certain signs of weakness against organized crime.
Even academic researchers did not rule out the possibility of evaluating the loss of control, meaning the loss of the state of Michoacan power and the progress of criminal groups in the conquest of all kinds of areas.
"The only thing we can conclude ... is that the organized criminals are winning the battle against federal and state authorities," Miguel Angel Chavez, head of the opposition National Action Party, told the Quadratin news agency, and also that the violence of the last 24 hours was a terrorist attack.
It has been suggested that Mexico is experiencing a so-called narco-insurgency, in which criminal groups seek to attack the state in order to gain total autonomy and control over their territory. The Knights Templar in particular position themselves as a popular social movement, and if it is true they were behind the attacks, then the use such tactics echoes methods used by insurgencies like Colombia's leftist guerrillas.
The Catholic Church demanded that the federal government restore the rule of law in Michoacan and investigate which mayors are linked to cartels including an investigation into Michoacan Governor Fausto Vallejo who is in collusion with organized crime.
- In the editorial of the weekly Desde La Fe from the Catholic Church, it took up position of removing impunity: La Familia Michoacan, Los Zetas, Nueva Gente and CTs murder, kidnap, extort fees from those faithful to the religion with absolute impunity
- "Local governments and police are under or in collusion with criminals, and it grows increasingly with the ever-present rumor that the state government is also in the service of organized crime, causing despair and disillusionment in society, especially because they know where they hide and do nothing to stop them."
Three Detained in "The Vandalism"
Federal police captured three men allegedly linked to the attacks on gas stations and facilities of the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) occurred over the weekend in Michoacan, said Monday the Security Cabinet spokesman, Eduardo Sanchez Hernandez.
The official said that the detainees can provide data on who carried out the attacks and why.
Two other people who "allegedly thought to be involved in the vandalism" were killed during a clash with soldiers, said Sanchez Hernandez without specifying details as the date and place of the incident.
Stop the Caballeros and End Impunity
Community leaders of the Mexican state of Michoacan urged the Government Knights Templar, after a weekend of clashes with community defense groups and attacks on electrical installations.
The leader of community police in the municipality of Buenavista, Hipolito Mora, told Efe that "there is a lot of tension in the area" after attacks Sunday by the criminal group against community policing, electrical substations, and six stations.
Mora reported that the military since last Friday of the municipalities of Aguilla, Coalcoman, Tepalcatepec and Buenavista and retreated in Apatzingán stronghold of the Knights Templar and where the Zone 43 military base is located.
He noted that the siege of the Knights Templar prohibited fuel, medicine and food from reaching those municipalities continues, civic groups have taken up arms to defend against that group that emerged in December 2010 as a spinoff of the La Familia Michoacana cartel.
Council leader of Tepalcatepec Citizen Community Self Defense, Jose Mireles, said Saturday about 3000 community police officers entered Apatzingán "100% unarmed" to protest against the blockade imposed by the criminal organization.
In retaliation, the Knights Templar attacked during the early hours of Sunday "at four different points at the same time on our defensive positions in Aguilla," he told MVS radio station.
"Those who were guarding the trenches answered aggression", which lasted three hours, Mireles said, adding that members of the community police of nearby towns came to help repel the attack.
The confrontation killed "12 Templars" and "one of our peers," a young man of 16 years, said the leader, although officially the balance remains in five deaths.
Mireles complained of impunity enjoyed by the Knights Templar in the region, where the armed forces "can not control organized crime."
The Knights Templar "challenge the state permanently" meanwhile, "you do not see anyone federal authorities react," reported Selene Vazquez state legislator, who asked the government to stop simulating and end impunity.
Secretary of local Government of Michoacán, Jaime Mares Camarena said the electricity was restored to 100% in the state and said that the Army and the Federal Police protects the premises of the Federal Commission of Electricity (CFE) to avoid new attacks.
He added that the government is on alert in other strategic installations in the state, but declined to identify them.
The community policing were born in February in the Tierra Caliente region, named for its temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius, and long before the wave of kidnappings, murders, extortion and other crimes in the area for the Knights Templar.
The band, known to own synthetic drug laboratories, use Michoacan's more than 270 kilometers of coastline other Pacific Ocean, to receive shipments of cocaine and other drugs from South America.
muchísimas gracias a Chivis for the video and extra photos, and Jack for supplemental material
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