/ 16 February 2008

Bomb kills one, wounds two in Mexico City

A bomb exploded on a street near the security ministry in central Mexico City on Friday, killing one person and wounding two.

No group claimed responsibility for the blast and there was no warning. The Mexican government is locked in a violent battle with drug gangs and has yet to catch left-wing rebels who planted small bombs at oil installations last year.

Hundreds of officers in riot gear blocked roads around the bomb site and evacuated nearby buildings as police helicopters hovered overhead. Windows of buildings and parked cars were blown out and a large advertising awning was destroyed.

Authorities hinted they suspected drug traffickers were behind the attack. ”We want everyone to know the importance of this event, given the possible involvement of organised crime,” Mexico City’s chief prosecutor Rodolfo Felix Cardenas told a news conference. He declined to give more details.

Mexico City police chief Joel Ortega said the dead man was between 25 and 30 years old and had severe abdominal wounds. His hand was blown off and police suspected he had detonated the device.

A woman was severely burned and in a critical condition in a hospital. A young man was wounded. The ministry building is a couple of blocks from the capital’s busy Reforma boulevard and near the bustling Zona Rosa district, which is popular with tourists.

”We believe the device was homemade,” Ortega said, who promised increased security in the huge city of about 18-million people following the blast.

It was unclear whether the device was left in a car or on the street, he added.

”We heard the blast and when we came out, there were two people lying on the ground,” said Juliana Dominguez, one of dozens of indigenous Mexicans who live in a nearby abandoned lot.

President Felipe Calderon has deployed the army in a year-old battle with Mexico’s powerful drug cartels. Police have made several arrests in the capital and seized suspected gang members found with large arsenals of guns and grenades.

Mexico is not home to any major terrorist groups, but last year, a small left-wing guerrilla launched a series of bomb attacks on oil installations. No one was killed.

The Marxist-inspired Popular Revolutionary Army, or EPR, was dormant for several years but re-emerged last year, badly hurting Mexican industry with two sets of bomb attacks on natural gas and fuel pipelines. – Reuters