MEXICO CITY Jan 20 A series of Oxxo convenience
stores have been attacked in central Mexico, authorities said on
Monday, a sign that strikes targeting businesses may be
spreading nearer to the capital.
There were reports that as many as nine stores belonging to
Mexico's largest convenience store chain, operated by Femsa
, were attacked late on Sunday night,
authorities in Hidalgo state and the state of Mexico said.
Femsa said three of its Oxxo stores were set on fire and two
were attacked by gunmen. Some employees suffered burns but none
were seriously hurt, Femsa said in a statement.
The company said it was investigating whether there is any
connection between the gun attacks and the fires.
The State of Mexico surrounds most of Mexico City and
borders Hidalgo to the north, and local state prosecutors said
the attacks appeared coordinated, echoing recent assaults
against businesses in the state of Michoacan in western Mexico.
Michoacan, which shares a border with the State of Mexico,
has been shaken by fighting between a violent drug gang and
heavily-armed vigilante groups, presenting a major security
challenge to President Enrique Pena Nieto.
A Hidalgo state official said one store in Tula, just over
an hour from Mexico City, was set on fire, apparently with
Molotov cocktails. There was a similar incident at a store in
Tizayuca, involving the same kind of homemade device, he said.
Five more stores were attacked in Hidalgo but it was not
clear if similar devices were used there, the official said.
Two more attacks on Oxxo stores were reported in the State
of Mexico, prosecutors said. Femsa confirmed those attacks.
Femsa runs Latin America's biggest Coke bottler, Coca-Cola
Femsa, in a joint venture with The Coca-Cola Co. Oxxo sells Coke
and other bottled drinks as well as snacks and cigarettes, among
other items. Some of the stores are open 24 hours.
In Michoacan, large areas of which have been under the
control of the Knights Templar drug cartel, a number of
installations operated by Mexico's state-run electricity company
were attacked in October, temporarily knocking out power for
hundreds of thousands of people.
Two years ago in Michoacan, officials arrested members of
the Knights Templar after a string of arson attacks on trucks
distributing PepsiCo snack products that was apparently
part of an extortion effort.