Source AP ©

Zapatista rebels support group standing behind recent attacks on oil and gas pipelines

Mexico's Zapatista rebels showed their support of a Marxist guerrilla group believed to be behind recent attacks on the country's oil and gas pipelines.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army did not explicitly condone the Sept. 10 and July 11 attacks, which temporarily cut the delivery of gas and oil and cost businesses hundreds of millions of dollars (euros) in lost production.

But it said in a statement sent to news media outlets on Sunday that the People's Revolutionary Army's demand for the government to release two of its members "is not only legitimate, it is also a complaint against the dirty war being revived by that lover of military uniforms, (President) Felipe Calderon."

The statement, which was also posted on the Zapatistas' Web site on Sunday, could not be independently verified. Calderon's office did not immediately issue a response.

The People's Revolutionary Army, or EPR, a secretive Marxist group that killed dozens of police and soldiers in the late 1990s, has claimed responsibility for two separate, multi-pronged attacks on pipelines operated by the state-owned oil company Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex.

The EPR, which has been largely inactive in recent years, threatened to continue attacks until authorities release two rebels they believe are in government custody.

The government denies holding the men, and Attorney General Eduardo Medina has suggested that they may have fallen victim to internal divisions within the guerrilla movement.

The Zapatista National Liberation Army, known by its Spanish acronym EZLN, seized the city of San Cristobal de las Casas and other communities in Chiapas state on Jan. 1, 1994 in the name of socialism and Indian rights. A cease-fire ended fighting between rebels and government forces after a few days, and the two sides have since maintained an uneasy truce.

Ski-masked Zapatista leader Subcomandante Marcos, whom the government has identified as a former professor, now travels the country advocating a quieter social revolution while issuing occasional missives critical of Mexico's politicians and government policies.

In the statement, the EZLN emphasized its "civil and pacifist" methods, which have included the establishment of autonomous regional Indian governments.

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