American killed during shootout in Mexican city


The Associated Press

OAXACA, Mexico -- An American was shot and killed Friday during clashes in the protest-besieged Mexican city of Oaxaca, police said. Several other people were wounded.

The American man, whom police believe was a journalist working for an unidentified media organization, was shot in the abdomen and died later at a hospital, said a police official who was not authorized to give his name. The victim's name and hometown weren't immediately available.

It was unclear who opened fire in both cases, but the clashes appeared to be between residents and protesters who are demanding the resignation of Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz, the police official said.

The American was killed during a shootout in a rough Oaxaca neighborhood where residents had tried to remove a blockade set up by protesters. The other shootout was in front of the state prosecutor's office.

Protesters have taken over the historic city since June, building barricades, driving out police and burning buses. The protesters accuse the governor of rigging the 2004 election to win office and using violence against his opponents.

Friday's clash came a day after teachers agreed to end their five-month-old strike that has kept 1.3 million children out of classes in the state of Oaxaca -- a move that was expected to take the sting out of the protests.

The teachers have been camped out in Oaxaca city's colonial center since May when they first walked out to demand higher pay and better working conditions.

After police attacked one of their demonstrations in June, they extended their demands to include a call for the resignation of Ruiz and were joined by leftists, students and Indian groups.

Police and armed gangs have led sporadic attacks on the protesters, and at least five people have been killed in violence related to the unrest.

Union officials said the teachers would demand that the government guarantee the safety of returning teachers, who fear reprisals from Ruiz supporters. Union leaders also are seeking the release of four jailed protesters and the cancellation of outstanding arrest warrants against demonstrators.

Mexico's Attorney General Daniel Cabeza de Vaca said this week that he had issued arrest warrants for at least 10 protesters accused of damaging buildings and blocking streets.

Ruiz has repeatedly asked federal authorities to send troops to restore order, but the government of President Vicente Fox has insisted on trying to solve the dispute through negotiations.

The conflict has been one of the biggest challenges for Fox, whose six-year term ends Dec. 1.