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Tuesday, January 13, 1998 Published at 10:50 GMT

World: Americas

Violence flares at Chiapas massacre protest
image: [ Guadulupe Mendez Lopez is carried away by Zapatista supporters after she was fatally injured by police ]
Guadulupe Mendez Lopez is carried away by Zapatista supporters after she was fatally injured by police

One woman has died after Mexican police opened fire on crowds taking part in an international day of protests to demand that those behind the murder of 45 indigenous people are brought to justice.

Tens of thousands of people took part in marches across Mexico on Monday in protest at the massacre in the state of Chiapas on December 22 last year.

Shooting caught on video

Guadalupe Mendez Lopez, 38 was shot in the stomach, when troops fired into a crowd after coming under attack from stone-throwing Zapatista supporters. Her daughter, Isabel Santis Mendez, 2, was wounded in the left arm.

The victims were part of a group of around 50 who had attended a protest rally in the town of Ocosingo and were walking back to their village nearby when they ran into a police patrol at a gas station shortly after midday.

Federal authorities ordered the army to investigate the incident which was filmed by a television crew. Soldiers arrested a police commander and 26 officers.

International protests

In Mexico City tens of thousands of protesters flooded the main boulevard to condemn the Chiapas massacre and to demand the resignation of the President, Ernesto Zedillo.

There were smaller protests in the United States, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Ecuador.

Investigations continue

About 40 people have been arrested for their alleged involvement in December's massacre. It is widely believed that it was pro-government paramilitaries who entered the town of Acteal and slaughtered Tzotzil Indian refugees, killing mostly women and children.

In the latest shake-up stemming from the massacre, the Mexican government on Monday fired its chief negotiator with the Zapatista guerrillas.

Talks between the government and the guerrillas broke down more than a year ago, although a cease-fire has held.

The dismissal followed the recent resignation of the Interior Minister and the Governor of Chiapas, who is under investigation by the Attorney General amid allegations he knew about the massacre but did not stop it.

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