[DEBATE] : Mexico police swarm riot town, free hostages
tony roshan samara
straightup00us at yahoo.com
Thu May 4 19:38:28 BST 2006
Mexico police swarm riot town, free hostages
By Noel Randewich 57 minutes ago
Over 1,000 riot police firing tear gas flooded into a town at the
edge of Mexico City on Thursday to hunt for agents taken hostage in a
riot sparked by flower traders that left at least one dead.
National television images showed police clad in body armor sweeping
into the frequently fractious farming town of San Salvador Atenco, 15
miles north of Mexico City, and hauling off bleeding protesters.
Violence exploded in the area on Wednesday when police arrested
roadside traders suspected of illegally selling flowers. Dozens more
were arrested later in the day.
A 14-year-old boy was killed in the rioting and some reports, denied
by the government, say a police officer also lost his life.
Fifty police officers were injured, 11 seriously, state Gov. Enrique
Pena Nieto said, and dozens were arrested.
During the chaos, angry demonstrators cornered 11 policemen and took
them hostage. The protesters released several of the men in the early
hours of Thursday morning but some reports said up to six of them had
not been found yet.
On Thursday, police, backed up by low-flying helicopters, over-ran
roadblocks set up by the demonstrators, who were demanding the
release of flower sellers and leaders arrested in raids and running
street battles on Wednesday.
The speed, size and early hour of the operation seemed to take the
town by surprise, and resistance was limited to small groups throwing
Police used strips of cloth as makeshift masks against the swirling
clouds of tear gas, and stormed houses to pull out residents in a
hunt for protest leaders.
On Wednesday, mobs of protesters burned tires on a main road and
lobbed stones and gasoline bombs at some 400 policemen. Rioters
kicked and stamped on two apparently unconscious policemen.
The riot was the latest outbreak of violence to hit Mexico as the
country approaches a July 2 presidential election. A surge in
drug-cartel bloodshed has spread to coastal resorts like Acapulco and
two people were killed in April when armed police tried to break up a
Presidential spokesman Ruben Aguilar told reporters on Thursday the
violence in Atenco was the work of a small group of people opposed to
democracy and not a sign that the country was slipping into further
"I can categorically assure you there is no lack of governability
here" he said.
San Salvador Atenco is known for its machete-armed peasants, who five
years ago blocked President Vicente Fox's plan to build a new airport
there with a standoff that lasted several days.
Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos, who headed a brief but
bloody uprising in the Indian dominated southern state of Chiapas in
1994, said his guerrilla army was on red-alert following the clashes.
Leftist Marcos, who is on a tour of Mexico City, has hardened his
political stance in recent days, calling for the overthrow of
government and vowing to expel foreign capital from the country.
Television images on Wednesday showed some protesters shouting
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