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Friday, December 26, 1997 Published at 11:42 GMT



World: Americas

Anger flares before funeral for Mexico massacre victims
image: [ Mourners at the funeral pay their respects ]
Mourners at the funeral pay their respects

Survivors of the massacre in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas have held a collective burial for the 45 people who died.


The BBC's Emma Paterson reports
The funeral took place shortly after friends and relatives of the victims clashed with an unidentified group of indigenous people from a nearby village.


[ image: The procession from the village of Polho to the the township of Acteal]
The procession from the village of Polho to the the township of Acteal
After a night-long vigil for the dead, the funeral procession traveled from the village of Polho to the township of Acteal to attend the burial.

The clash happened as the funeral procession approached the village where the funeral was to place.


[ image: The procession clashed with locals from a nearby village on a truck]
The procession clashed with locals from a nearby village on a truck
Panic swept through the party of grieving relatives and friends as the funeral convoy met a truck full of peasants on the road.

Some of the survivors claimed that those on board the truck were those responsible for the massacre.

A fight ensued before police intervened and arrested a number of the alleged suspects.

Local reports say the authorities have now detained more than 40 people for questioning about the massacre, some of whom are reported to be members of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party.

On December 23, masked paramilitaries entered the native Indian village and opened fire.

Twenty-one women, nine men, 14 children and an infant died.


[ image:  ]
It was the worst attack of its kind since the leftist Zapatista rebels took up arms four years ago.

The killings have provoked an international outcry and calls for the resignation of local government leaders after allegations that the security forces could have done more to prevent the killings.

The Mexican Interior Ministry has said the government "categorically rejects" charges that it played any part in the massacre of 45 indigenous people, and reiterated its offer of peace talks with rebels.

Interior Minister Emilio Chuayffet told radio networks that while the government wanted to punish those responsible for the massacre, it was also concerned not to trigger "an aftermath of violent reactions that could make the violence cyclical."


 





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