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Six dead, hundreds injured after gunmen open fire on Mexican teachers' protest

The protest was against educational reform.

Image: AP/Press Association Images

AT LEAST SIX people were killed, including a journalist, and more than 100 injured in southern Mexico when unknown gunmen opened fire during clashes between police and teachers, authorities said.

The violence erupted last night as police fired tear gas at protesters to end a week-long barricade of a road in Asuncion Nochixtlan, a town in Oaxaca state, where some vehicles were set on fire.

The National Education Workers Coordinator (CNTE) union has been leading protests in Oaxaca for days against an education reform and the arrest of two of its leaders.

The National Security Commission initially denied that officers were armed, charging that news pictures showing them with guns were “false.”

Mexico Teachers Protest Source: AP/Press Association Images

But federal police chief Enrique Galindo later said that an armed unit was deployed after unidentified people “fired weapons on police and the population.”

“The teachers were not even involved in these things,” Galindo said at a news conference.

“There are reports of the presence of various violent groups that have headed the blockades of roads and strategic installations for days,” the federal and state governments said in a joint statement, urging the CNTE to distance itself from these unidentified groups.

Bullet wounds

Mexico Teachers Protest Source: AP/Press Association Images

The six fatalities were all civilians, said Oaxaca state public security secretary Jorge Alberto Ruiz Martinez.

Paramedics said that three of the dead had bullet wounds. One was a minor and the other two were 23 and 28. The paramedics spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak publicly.

It was not immediately clear how the other three were killed.

However the mayor of the Oaxaca town of Juchitan de Zaragoz, where similar clashes occurred, reported that a journalist covering the violence plus one other person had been shot dead.

Mexico Teachers Protest Source: AP/Press Association Images

Authorities did not specify whether the death toll of six included these two individuals.

Another 55 federal and state officers were injured, including eight by gunshots, Ruiz Martinez said. At least 53 civilians were injured.

At least 21 people were arrested.

- © AFP, 2016

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