Truckers mount a blockade in Mexico City. Truckers mount a blockade in Mexico City.

Day 5 of gas protests: blockades in 12 states

Violence reported in Hidalgo; one police officer died yesterday in gas station assault

Gas price protests continued for the fifth day today, with 12 states still being affected by highway blockades as of 4:00pm, according to Federal Police.

Those states are Veracruz, Nuevo León, Campeche, Hidalgo, Puebla, Tamaulipas, Oaxaca, Zacatecas, Chihuahua, Sonora, Morelos and Chiapas.

While police reported that most blockades were retired without incident, an attack on a gas station yesterday turned fatal.

One police officer died after being struck by a car while investigating an assault on a gas station in the Miguel Hidalgo borough of Mexico City.

The officer and a colleague were attempting to stop 40 people from assaulting station employees yesterday evening when the victim was hit by a vehicle allegedly carrying participants in the assault. He died later in hospital.

Efforts to remove a highway blockade on the Mexico City-Laredo highway in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, were thwarted today and two Federal Police officers detained by local residents. They were nabbed during a confrontation by protesting residents and local police, who were trying to remove the blockade that had been in place since Monday.

The federal officers had arrived in a truck, from which one was removed. The driver remained inside the armored vehicle but was forced out when rockets and smoke were fired inside the vehicle, and the windows broken.

The officer was beaten until other protesters persuaded them to stop so the two could be used as a bargaining chip, as two local residents had been arrested earlier by police.

There have been at least three blockades on the highway since Monday.

Meanwhile, a chain of pawnshops said today that 20 of its branches in four State of México municipalities were vandalized and robbed of more than 100 million pesos in cash, jewelry, electronics and cell phones between yesterday and early this morning.

The president of Amespre said the actions had nothing to do with protests against higher gas prices, but instead were the acts of criminals taking advantage of the social unrest those increases have brought on.

Much of the looting reported in the last two days has affected larger chain stores such as Bodega Aurrera and Coppel, but yesterday a small vendor of cell phone accessories was a victim.

The owner of the store in Mexico City told the newspaper El Universal that between 30 and 40 individuals arrived in trucks, a car and motorcycles and vandalized the premises, destroying everything with sticks, breaking glass and stealing merchandise.

“In less than 15 seconds they took everything, all my effort over the years,” said the owner, who opened her small store 19 years ago.

Her husband sought help from two police officers who were nearby but they said they could do nothing about it.

Former president Felipe Calderón today described those responsible for looting stores as “anarchists, parasites and common thieves taking advantage of discontent” and that no one should be fooled by their game.

Source: Milenio (sp), El Universal (sp), Reforma (sp)

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