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Rebels Expel Families in Chiapas

August 12, 2000

SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (AP) _ Zapatista rebels forced more than 100 government supporters from their homes in a small Chiapas village Saturday in the latest round of a series of sometimes-violent land disputes.

Rebels claiming they owned the land yanked 120 people from their homes in the mostly indigenous village of Nuevo Pavoreal, said Miguel Angel Yanes, assistant district attorney for the area.

Several residents were injured and forced to take refuge in a nearby coffee warehouse, Yanes said.

The ousted residents support the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party. Pro-government paramilitary groups and rebels have clashed frequently since the 1994, when the Zapatistas launched their uprising to demand more democracy and Indian rights. Some of the confrontations have been over land.

On Aug. 3, presumed paramilitaries armed with assault rifles expelled about 90 Zapatista sympathizers from their homes in the tiny Chiapas village of Paraiso, accusing them of stealing the land.

The attackers were likely residents of a nearby village who for years have been locked in a dispute with the pro-rebel villagers over about 500 acres of land.

Government commissions had apparently given both groups title to the disputed land.

In 1997, a pro-government paramilitary group massacred 45 rebel sympathizers in the Chiapas hamlet of Acteal.

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