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Gunmen Kill Chiapas Peasant Leader

January 29, 1998

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) _ Two gunmen shot and killed a peasant leader outside his home in the capital of the restive southern state of Chiapas, a radio station reported today.

Rubicel Ruiz Gamboa died late Wednesday from two bullet wounds to the back, XEWM radio in Chiapas reported.

Ruiz Gamboa’s Peasants’ Independent Central organization has been active in the coastal Sierra Madre mountains, where peasants have invaded coffee plantations and taken over town halls to demand land and greater democracy.

Gustavo Zarate, a leader of the State Democratic Assembly of the Chiapas People, of which Ruiz Gamboa’s organization is a part, said the killing in Tuztla Guttierrez was an attempt to sabotage efforts to renew peace talks between the state’s Zapatista rebels and the federal government.

The radio said state officials were investigating the killing, which was witnessed by Ruiz Gamboa’s driver.

Tensions have been high in Chiapas since Dec. 22, when pro-government gunmen killed 45 peasants, all believed to be rebel sympathizers. One officer has been charged and two police commanders are under investigation for possible involvement.

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