Image: Villagers beat police officer
Daniel Aguilar  /  Reuters
Villagers beat a police officer during clashes in the village of San Salvador Atenco, east of Mexico City, on Wednesday.
updated 5/4/2006 1:18:09 AM ET 2006-05-04T05:18:09

One person was killed as machete-wielding protesters near Mexico’s capital clashed with police Wednesday, blocking highways, throwing molotov cocktails and taking at least two police officers hostage.

A 14-year-old boy from San Salvador Atenco was killed, though circumstances surrounding his death were unclear, said Humberto Benitez, secretary general of the state of Mexico.

Benitez said, as did a spokesman for the Federal Preventative Police, that a federal police agent was also beaten to death. Hours later, however, Mexico state Gov. Enrique Pena Nieto called television stations to say the officer remained hospitalized in serious condition.

Television images from helicopters overhead showed residents repeatedly punching and kicking the semiconscious officer even after he had been put inside an ambulance.

The residents, who have a history of fights with authorities, attacked police after several of their companions were arrested in the nearby town of Texcoco, according to media reports.

Hundreds of police fired tear gas into the crowds and arrested 31 people. A tense calm settled over the town after dark, though residents continued to block nearby highways.

Benitez said two police officers were being held hostage in an auditorium near the center of town. Mexican media reported that five officials may have been abducted, however. Pena Nieto said on television the exact number of hostages was unclear, but as many as 11 federal, state and local police officers and officials had likely been abducted.

At least three dozen police officers were injured, according to media reports. An Associated Press photographer suffered minor bruises after being clubbed during the melee.

Elsewhere in Mexico, gunmen opened fire on a group of officers eating lunch in a restaurant in the troubled border town of Nuevo Laredo, injuring five officers and a bystander.

Three officers were in serious but stable condition after the attack while two others suffered minor injuries, said Rene Ruiz, an investigating agent.

No arrests were made and investigators said they didn’t know why the officers were attacked or how many assailants were involved.

Nuevo Laredo, a city of 330,000 across from Laredo, Texas, has been caught in a turf war between rival drug gangs fighting for billion-dollar smuggling routes into the United States. Since Jan. 1, about 100 people, including eight police officers, have been slain in the city, compared to 23 during the same period last year.

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