Gunbattles have put the city of Oaxaca in chaos.
OAXACA, Mexico (AP) -- Shop owners shuttered their businesses and demonstrators built up street barricades Saturday after President Vicente Fox ordered federal police to intervene in this picturesque city torn by more than five months of protests and violence.
Fox, who leaves office Dec. 1, had refused repeated requests to use force in Oaxaca even as the southern city slid into chaos. But gunbattles Friday that killed a U.S. journalist and at least two Mexicans apparently exhausted his patience.
It was unclear how many officers of the Federal Preventative Police were converging on this long popular tourist destination, though officers in gray uniforms and carrying riot shields poured off of several transport planes at the airport outside town.
In unrest that began with a teacher strike for higher pay, leftists have blocked streets for months demanding the ouster of Oaxaca state Gov. Ulises Ruiz. They claim the state government has sent gunmen and thugs to provoke them.
After Fox announced he was ordering in federal police, protesters fortified their positions by piling up sandbags and parking large trucks and buses across roads leading into the center of Oaxaca.
Men also were seen removing broadcast equipment from one of the local radio stations seized by protesters months ago. A second station held by leftists remained on the air, urging Oaxaca's people to prevent federal police from entering the city.
Few people ventured from their homes. Across the heart of the city, nearly all shops and restaurants closed early. Street vendors packed up their wares and disappeared.
"We're afraid," Juan Lopez said as he pulled metal shutters down over the glass storefront of a sporting goods shop a half block from Oaxaca's leafy central plaza surrounded by arcaded colonial-era buildings. "We're afraid there is going to be more shooting."
Friday's shooting began when gunmen tried to remove a street blockade in a rough neighborhood. Journalist Bradley Roland Will, 36, of New York, was hit in the abdomen and died later at a Red Cross hospital.
Oaxaca resident Esteban Zurrita was shot dead and the bullet-ridden body of another man, Emilio Alonso Fabian, was discovered about two miles away. A photographer for the Mexican newspaper Milenio was slightly injured.
Will worked for Indymedia.org, an independent Web-based media organization and sold video on a freelance basis, said friends and Indymedia colleague Hinrich Schuleze.
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