Several deaths have been reported following the bitter street fighting that took place in Mexico City on Thursday night as eight thousand students staging an anti-Government march were attacked by a give hundred strong force of youths using firearms and wooden staves.
MS Ditto marching through street with banners (2 shots)
MV Police across road
MV Line of police PAN to demonstrators
CU Che Guevera on banner
MV Demonstrators standing jeering at police
MV Demonstrators marching
MV Police advancing
MV Police advancing & demonstrators running away, cameraman knocked over
Initials SGM/0331 SGM/0352
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Background: Several deaths have been reported following the bitter street fighting that took place in Mexico City on Thursday night as eight thousand students staging an anti-Government march were attacked by a give hundred strong force of youths using firearms and wooden staves. Visnews cameraman Tony Halik became a casualty when stave-welding youths singled him out on a sidewalk and beat him up. Rushed to hospital, he received stitches in head wounds but insisted on returning to the streets to continue his coverage. His film was later transmitted by satellite from the United States for the Eurovision network.
The street fighting lasted all night, and was Mexico's worst clash since the bloody pre-Olympics riots of 1968. Several people died, but the numbers of dead have not yet been confirmed. Since the all night battle, youths armed with sub-machine guns pistols and staves have stormed into at least one city hospital, attacking wounded students and even preventing surgery staff from carrying out operations. Many of the student casualties admitted to hospitals were said to be suffering from gunshot wounds.
The identity of the force which began the attacks on Thursday night has been the subject of serious allegations by some Mexican journalists and students. At first, the five hundred were reported to be members of an extreme right wing organization with the initials M.U.R.O. But Reuters report that many students and journalists have since alleged that the attackers were members of an irregular police unit known as Los Halcones (The Hawks). A spokesman for President Luis Echeverria said on Friday that the attackers "have absolutely and categorically nothing to do with the Government." He added: "The Government have no shock troops or secret police."
Mexico City's Mayor, Alfonso Martinez Dominguez, blamed the clashes on rivalries student groups in the Capital's University and Polytechnic Institute. Uniformed police units stationed at points within the city did little to intervene in the fighting, but official spokesman have made no reference to this.