Mexican protesters take three more hostages

 

Mexican farmers have taken at least three more hostages in the standoff over construction of a new airport for Mexico City.

About 1,000 protesters are now holding 15 people at a government building on the outskirts of the capital.

The hostages were paraded in front of the crowd yesterday and told journalists they were being treated well. But they said they fear for their lives if police try to raid the town.

A municipal prosecutor said: "I call on my superiors, on state officials, and on President Fox not to abandon us.

"I want to go home. I want to feel like authorities and the government are doing all they can to get me there."

Some 750 officers in riot gear have surrounded the town of San Salvador Atenco, where traffic has been at a standstill for days after protesters blocked roads with burned cars and stolen tractor-trailers.

The farmers have threatened to kill the hostages, saying they will tie them to three hijacked petrol tanker trucks and set them on fire if police try to end the standoff.

They have demanded the release of 15 fellow protesters arrested during a previous confrontation. Three have been freed by prosecutors, but the 12 others remained jailed.

Protesters say the three men they took hostage yesterday are state police officials posing as reporters with fake press credentials. A spokeswoman at the state prosecutor's office says she has no information.

PA