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Displaced Tzotzil indigenous people in Chiapas. Displaced Tzotzil indigenous people in Chiapas.

3 dead, 1,500 displaced in Chiapas conflict

Gang attacks town, forcing residents to flee

A dispute in the Tzotzil town of Chavajebal, Chiapas, has left three people dead and displaced at least 1,500 people although it remains unclear what the conflict is about.

It began last month when local authorities jailed a man for reasons that are also unclear. Two hours later, 30 people armed with sticks and stones and led by a local teacher set him free.

Shortly after, three representatives from the town traveled to the capital, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, where they filed a formal request before the federal Secretariat of Public Education to remove the teacher from his job.

But they were ambushed on their way back to Chavajebal, and two of the men were killed.

The alleged perpetrators of the ambush were later identified, and three were apprehended and incarcerated on Wednesday by residents.

Later that day, however, an armed gang blocked the road to prevent moving the prisoners out of town. Hours later, the same group broke into the prison and released them and then attacked the town, triggering the exodus of more than 1,500 people.

At least one person was killed during the attack.

News of the incident were only made public after a delegation of Catholic church representatives visited Chavajebal on the weekend.

Church authorities say some 1,500 Tzotzil people from Chavajebal have left their homes and are unaccounted for. A human rights group puts the figure at more than 1,700.

Source: El Universal (sp), QS Noticias (sp)

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