- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A little-known leftist rebel group took responsibility for a series of explosions at oil and natural-gas pipelines operated by Petroleos Mexicanos, Mexico’s state-owned, nationalized petroleum company.

The Popular Revolutionary Army, or Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR), said it was responsible for six explosions about 2 a.m. yesterday. The blasts damaged three pipelines and caused fires, although there were no reports of injuries or deaths.

Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, called the explosions “premeditated acts,” adding that they forced the closure of three oil and gas pipelines and the evacuation of about 12,500 people in the Mexican state of Veracruz in the east-central part of the country along the Gulf of Mexico.

Fidel Herrera, the governor of Veracruz, called the explosions “deliberate and orchestrated.”

Pemex spokesman Carlos Ramirez yesterday said the bombings would slow the flow of crude to Mexican refineries but would not affect the company’s output and exports.

“There is an internal impact in terms of the supply that arrives at the refineries, but there is no effect on output and exports,” Mr. Ramirez said.

U.S. intelligence officials and law-enforcement authorities yesterday described the EPR as a leftist guerrilla movement, which previously has sought targets in the Mexican states of Chiapas, Guanajuato, Guerrero and Oaxaca.

The EPR boasts a Marxist-Leninist ideology and advocates socialist revolution, the sources said. The EPR also has founded a militarized political party known as the Popular Revolutionary Democratic Party, or Partido Democratico Popular Revolucionario.

In July, the EPR took responsibility for attacking a major Pemex gas pipeline running from central Mexico City to Guadalajara in the state of Guanajuato, located in Mexico’s central highlands. The group said at the time the attacks would continue until two of its members, who were arrested in May, were released from prison.

Those explosions disrupted natural-gas supplies to thousands of residents and businesses in four states in central Mexico. Guanajuato is the home state of former Mexican President Vicente Fox.

Pemex officials said yesterday’s explosions targeted a 48-inch natural-gas pipeline, a 30-inch oil pipeline, a 30-inch natural gas line and a 24-inch liquid natural gas line. The company had no information on how many customers may have been affected, but the large pipelines were described as main arteries of supply to Mexico City and the surrounding areas.

Mexico’s Chamber of Transformation Industries, a business group, said shutdowns caused by the explosions could cost businesses in central Mexico between $5 million and $10 million in losses each day.

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