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By MANUEL DE LA CRUZ
Associated Press Writer

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico --
Five state police officers were arrested in southern Mexico on Sunday in connection with a deadly raid to dislodge protesters from a Mayan archaeological site.
The five officers led an operation on Friday to remove hundreds of mostly indigenous villagers who had occupied the entrance to the Chinkultic ruins for nearly a month, the Chiapas state Justice Department said. The officers could face homicide charges.
Protesters fought back with sticks, rocks and machetes, the department said. They wrested 75 guns from the officers and poured gasoline on others, threatening to set them on fire.
State Justice Secretary Amador Rodriguez Lozano said four villagers were killed and two are missing. Two dozen other people were injured, including 16 police officers. Indigenous leaders said the two missing protesters were found dead, bringing the toll to six.
The villagers, most of them from the Mayan Tzeltal and Tzotzil cultures, were protesting what they call excessive entrance fees and a failure to reinvest gate revenues in local infrastructure and environmental protection. They also demanded a role in the administration of the ruins.
They invaded the site on Sept. 7, driving away administrative workers but allowing archeologists to keep working. They had operated the front gate ever since, charging visitors 20 pesos (US$1.80) rather than the official 35 pesos (US$3) and saying the money would go to fixing roads and other infrastructure improvements.
Another 295 police who had been held for questioning were released by Sunday. But the Justice Department said more could be arrested as investigations continue.
Lozano also said authorities are considering an offer from the villagers to hand over the stolen weapons in return for the release of 30 detained protesters.
Chinkultic is a 1,200-year-old Mayan archaeological site near the Guatemalan border.

Story From: AP Wire Service
 
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