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Mexican Village Strewn With Evidence of Deadly Clash

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The police and soldiers were gone from this Indian village on Thursday, and dozens of men in Zapatista rebel uniforms patrolled the town’s square, some with assault rifles.

The evidence of the clash between the army and rebels Wednesday was everywhere--smashed desks in the farm hall, the ransacked interior of the town store, an ample smearing of blood on the concrete floor of the health clinic.

No women or children could be seen here Thursday.

Although the government has said its troops were fired upon as they entered the village, residents said Thursday that the army rolled in shooting tear gas and mortars, and that residents responded with gunfire only then.

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Nine people--including one police officer--were killed, up to nine were injured and 56 were arrested before the troops withdrew. It was among the deadliest clashes in Chiapas state since the rebels’ January 1994 uprising for Indian rights and greater democracy.

Wednesday’s clash appears to have been the first direct confrontation between government forces and Zapatista rebels in years. Some analysts said it could signal a new willingness on the part of the government to use force to crush rebel support.


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