Thousands flee Mexico terror gangs

Tuesday 30 December 1997 00:02 GMT

Convoys of heavily armed troops, church workers and volunteers are escorting thousands of frightened Tzotzil Indians from at least three villages where armed bands have ruled by threats and violence since March. The gangs, loyal to Mexico's ruling party, are blamed for the massacre of 45 people a week ago in Chiapas state, where guerrillas of the Zapatista National Liberation Army have waged a four-year-old insurgency aimed at securing rights for the region's poor Indians.

The evacuees (pictured left) are being taken to Polho, a village populated mainly by Zapatista sympathisers. Red Cross workers said as many as 3,500 people may be making their way here. The gangs began forming and arming themselves in March, and exploited local farmers in this lush coffee-growing area near the Guatemalan border. - AP, Polho

Photograph: Douglas Engle

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in