Attackers in Mexico Blow up Nine Electrical Plants

Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2013

Assailants early Sunday blew up at least nine electrical power plants in one of Mexico’s largest 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.

Shortly after midnight, attackers armed with Molotov cocktails almost simultaneously disabled electrical substations in at least nine cities and towns in Michoacan, plunging an estimated 1 million people into darkness. The power was out for 15 hours.

Gunmen then torched four gasoline stations, including two in the state capital of Morelia, a popular tourist destination.

Michoacan for years has been controlled either by the Knights Templar or its predecessor La Familia, cartels that specialize in methamphetamine exported to the United States and that have controlled many city halls and police departments. More recently, groups of citizens have taken up weapons to form self-defense squads against the traffickers.

It may have been one of these groups that briefly seized the city hall in the large town of Apatzingan, residents said.

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