April 27 (UPI) — At least eight people were killed and 11 others injured in fighting that erupted early Wednesday between two groups of rival workers of a Mexican cement plant in the state of Hidalgo, authorities and officials said.
The death toll was announced by Hidalgo Gov. Omar Fayad in a statement condemning the violence at the industrial cement manufacturing plant of Ciudad Cooperative Cruz Azul where two factions of employees have fought for control of the site.
Fayad said nine people have been detained, and the state’s attorney general was working to confirm the number of casualties. The injured have been taken to local hospitals for treatment, he said. Their condition was unknown.
The governor said in addition to investigating the crime he’s instructed the state’s secretariat and attorney general to “promote dialogue” between the two factions “and prevent the repetition of events as unfortunate as this one.”
The authorities were notified early Wednesday that a clash between the workers had erupted at one of the entrances at the plant located in the municipality of Tula, which is about 90 miles north of Mexico City, Secretary of Public Security of the State of Hidalgo said in a statement.
Security, civil protection and medical personnel responded to the incident and are currently guarding the facility, it said, adding “facilities and vehicles show damage.”
The fighting, which goes back at least a decade, is between two groups that claim ownership of the cooperative at the factory, with both on Wednesday blaming the other for the violence.
Federico Sarabia, leader of one faction that has possession of at least parts of the plant, told El Pais that the other faction had transported some 500 people by bus to the site that morning to wage violence.
In a statement, the Cooperativa La Cruz Azul SCL denied the accusation, saying all of the actions it has taken against Sarabia have been “by legal means, favoring institutional channels.”
“At Cooperativa La Cruz Azul, we firmly believe in our institutions and we believe that violence only breeds more violence,” it said, adding it calls on the authorities to “investigate, determine responsibilities and punish those responsible for such unfortunate events, as well as put an end to the illegality that persists at the plant.”
The Cooperativa La Cruz Azul SCL has accused Sarabia of illegally having possession of the plant.
“At La Cruz Azul we say a resounding NO to violence, anarchy and illegality,” it said.