By Lizbeth Diaz
MEXICO CITY Oct 28 Mexican security forces
killed two people believed to be involved in a string of attacks
on electrical installations at the weekend and captured three
more, the government said on Monday.
An unspecified number of substations and gas stations were
attacked and damaged early on Sunday in the troubled western
state of Michoacan in an attack that temporarily knocked out
power for hundreds of thousands of people.
National security spokesman Eduardo Sanchez said authorities
were still investigating the attacks but added that two men
suspected of being involved had been killed in a firefight with
soldiers, while three others had been captured.
"These men ... have been hospitalized as a result of
injuries caused by the flipping over of the car they were trying
to flee in," Sanchez said. It was not immediately clear when the
killings and arrests took place.
He said that power had now been restored to all the affected
regions. Local media said blackouts had plunged into darkness
more than 400,000 people across the mountainous state of some
Mexico stepped up security in the troubled western region in
the wake of the attacks.
Energy Minister Pedro Joaquin Coldwell said security forces
had increased their presence at facilities of the state-run
electricity company the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE) and
oil monopoly Pemex in Michoacan.
Parts of the state have fallen under the control of criminal
gangs who are fighting among themselves and against authorities.
In a radio interview, Michoacan's interior minister, Jaime
Mares, declined to say who may have been behind the attacks in
the state, where clashes between the powerful Knights Templar
drug cartel and rival gangs have sparked much violence.
Raul Benitez, a security expert at the National Autonomous
University of Mexico (UNAM), said he believed the strikes had
been carried out by the Knights Templar in retaliation for
government efforts to crack down on the gang.
"It's a decision to carry out general terrorism," Benitez
said. "And this will now lead to a very strong response by the
government, backed by the population."
Petrol bombs were used in some of the attacks, which
involved at least 19 CFE installations, local media said.
Mares said there were no deaths in the attacks, although
local media reported that five suspected cartel henchmen were
gunned down by vigilantes in the town of Aguililla near the city
of Apatzingan, a stronghold of the Knights Templar.
Michoacan has been rocked by repeated explosions of civil
unrest this year, and protesters have repeatedly blocked major
streets and highways in the capital and other cities.
Adding to the violence, vigilante groups have sprung up in
the region this year in reaction to what they say is lack of
protection by state and federal police against the gangs.
President Enrique Pena Nieto in May sent a general to take
over all police and military operations in the state.
Michoacan was where former President Felipe Calderon
launched his military-led crackdown on drug cartels shortly
after taking office at the end of 2006.
Though he succeeded in capturing or killing many drug lords,
Calderon could not contain the violence between the gangs, which
has since claimed around 80,000 lives.