September 12, 2007 in Nation/World

Mexico steel industry crippled after pipeline bombings

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

MEXICO CITY – More than 60 percent of Mexico’s steel production was halted and two major auto plants, including Volkswagen’s only manufacturing facility in North America, shut down Tuesday after explosions claimed by a leftist group cut natural gas supplies.

Petroleos Mexicanos said the attacks on its oil and natural gas pipelines would cause hundreds of millions of dollars in production losses for the state-owned oil company and affect 10 states.

The six explosions on Monday affected a dozen natural gas pipelines and one oil pipeline in the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, sending flames and black smoke shooting into the air but causing no direct injuries. The blasts occurred at valve stations where different pipelines intersect.

Industry and national-security experts say the small leftist group claiming responsibility has proved it is a force to be reckoned with.

The Revolutionary People’s Army, or EPR, a secretive Marxist group that killed dozens of police and soldiers during attacks in the late 1990s, claimed responsibility for the explosions in a statement e-mailed to various news organizations on Tuesday, the Reforma and El Universal newspapers reported on their Web sites.

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