MEXICO CITY – A police officer was killed and five others were wounded in looting in Mexico City linked to the nationwide protests against the fuel price hikes that took effect on New Year’s Day, police said Thursday.
“While to prevent crimes from being committed, six Mexico City Public Safety Secretariat officers were hurt, two of them seriously, in the boroughs of Miguel Hidalgo and Coyoacan” on Wednesday, the Public Safety Secretariat said.
One of the injured officers “died at a hospital in San Miguel Chapultepec as a result of injuries sustained when he was run over while trying to prevent the robbery of a gas station, and another (officer) is listed in critical condition,” the secretariat said.
More than 500 people have been arrested in the Mexico City metropolitan area for looting and vandalism during the protests against the fuel hikes, the government of Mexico state said.
“Based on information provided by the Mexico state Attorney General’s Office, 430 arrests were made in the act of committing vandalism,” the state government said in a statement.
Four state police officers were arrested after being seen taking items from a supermarket in Ecatepec, a city in Mexico state, which surrounds the Federal District and forms part of the Mexico City metropolitan area, officials said.
In the Gulf state of Veracruz, meanwhile, 96 people were arrested and charged with terrorism and rioting in the wake of looting related to the protests.
Police arrested both individuals caught looting shopping centers and people who urged others over social media to commit crimes against supermarkets and other businesses, the Veracruz state government said in a statement.
On Wednesday night, looters targeted stores in the Veracruz-Boca del Rio port and tourist zones; Xalapa, the capital of Veracruz; and the Tierra Blanca and Coatzacoalcos oil regions.
The most extensive looting and vandalism occurred in Veracruz and Boca del Rio, where 70 businesses were hit, National Chamber of Commerce local chapter president Jesus Muñoz de Cote Sampiery said.
Losses total 100 million pesos ($4.6 million) at shopping centers, pharmacies and convenience stores, the business leader said.
The 14 percent to 20 percent hikes in fuel prices, depending on the type of fuel, that took effect on Jan. 1 triggered protests in cities across Mexico.
The protests over the increase in fuel prices have grown, with truckers, transportation workers, grassroots activists and others joining in to oppose the Peña Nieto administration.