Fire at Illegal Oil Pipeline Tap in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY (AP) — A clandestine pipeline tap went up in flames Sunday in the central Mexico state of Puebla, where clashes over illegal fuel thefts killed 10 people just days ago.

The state Public Security Department reported via Twitter that firefighters were working to put out the blaze in the town of Nenetzintla.

The department posted photos showing two charred pickups as well as intense flames and smoke billowing next to “Do not excavate” signs that signal the presence of an underground pipeline. It did not say whether there were any injuries.

Mexican authorities have been trying to crack down on the thousands of illegal pipeline taps that cost state oil company Petroleos Mexicanos about $1.5 billion a year, according to some recent estimates.

Some communities in Puebla and elsewhere have come to base much of their economies on selling gasoline and diesel siphoned from pipelines, and armed gangs have moved into the business and recruited local populations en masse.

On Wednesday, gunmen using residents as human shields opened fire on army patrols investigating pipeline thefts. Four soldiers and six attackers were killed in the clashes.

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