(Recasts throughout, adds details on pipeline)
MEXICO CITY May 13 A fire sparked by suspected
fuel thieves killed four people and forced Mexico's state oil
company Pemex to temporarily halt pumping operations along a
pipeline in the country's violent eastern state of Veracruz, the
company said on Saturday.
Pemex said the fire was brought swiftly under control and
none of the four victims found alongside a car near the pipeline
were believed to be Pemex workers.
The pipeline has a capacity of 73,000 barrels per day and
transports gasoline and diesel from Pemex's Minatitlan oil
refinery to Mexico City.
The incident occurred near the town of El Mango, in a region
particularly rife with drug-trafficking. It came about a week
after four soldiers and six suspected oil thieves died in a
clash in the Mexican state of Puebla, just south of Veracruz.
Fuel siphoning is a growing problem for the oil-producing
nation and the army has launched an operation against organized
criminal groups behind it.
"Specialized personnel are carrying out the work for the
elimination of this clandestine theft," Pemex said in a
Pemex has said it is losing a record 27,000 barrels per day
of gasoline and diesel to criminal gangs.
(Reporting By Noe Torres and Mitra Taj; Editing by Dan Grebler
and Tom Brown)