Mexican Police Officer Killed Amid Gas Price Protests

(@rukhshanmirpk)

Mexican police officer killed amid gas price protests

MEXICO CITY, Jan 5 (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 05th Jan, 2017 ) : Mexicans held new protests against a gasoline price increase on Thursday after a day of looting left a police officer dead, nearly 250 stores ransacked and 500 people arrested.

The officer died on Wednesday after he was hit by a car while "preventing a theft at a service station," the city police department said in a statement. Five other officers were injured elsewhere in the capital.

Mexicans have blocked highways and service stations since the government implemented a 20.1 percent increase in premium gasoline prices on January 1. But the demonstrations have been accompanied by looting in several parts of the country.

A total of almost 250 stores have been looted in the capital and six other states, said Manuel Cardona, director of the National Association of Self-Service and Department Stores. "It's out of control," Cardona told Radio Formula.

He called on Federal forces to intervene, including the army if necessary. In Mexico state, which almost completely surrounds the capital, authorities have detained 430 people for their "presumed participation in acts of vandalism." In Mexico City, several shops had closed on Wednesday and some streets were unusually empty over fears that looting could spread in the mega-capital of 21 million people.

Capital police reported 29 cases of theft and vandalism against stores and 76 arrests. But the city "woke up well, stable, calm" on Thursday morning, the capital's government secretary general, Patricia Mercado, told Radio Formula.

The police deployed an additional 9,000 officers to patrol Mexico City, with support from 13 helicopters and 20,000 street cameras. Dozens of people held a new protest in Mexico City on Thursday, while federal police reported new road blocks in various states.

President Enrique Pena Nieto defended the price increase, saying it was necessary due to a rise in global oil prices. "I understand the irritation and anger among the population in general," he said on Wednesday, arguing that not increasing the prices would have been more painful for the economy.

The hike was imposed as the government prepares to stop fuel subsidies and let the market dictate gasoline prices from March. Pena Nieto enacted a sweeping energy reform in 2014 that ended the monopoly held by state firm Pemex, inviting private firms to drill for oil and gas as well as own service stations for the first time in decades.