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Honduran Police Crackdown on Student Protests

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Police fired teargas and water cannons at some 3,000 students who amassed in the Honduran capital on Wednesday to protest against the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya last June.

Honduran policemen shoot tear gas against students from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Honduras during a demonstration to demand the restitution of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. Police fired teargas and water cannons at some 3,000 students who amassed in the Honduran capital on Wednesday to protest against the ousting of President Manuel Zelaya last June. Heavily-protected riot police beat back demonstrators who blocked one of the city's main thoroughfares in front of the National Autonomous University, fulfilling a pledge to clampdown on protests that have convulsed the Central American since June 28.

Then, Zelaya was bundled out of the country in a military-backed coup, prompting international outrage and a domestic crisis that shows few signs of abating.

On Wednesday his supporters chanted pro-Zelaya slogans and hurled rocks at banks of riot police, leaving the street strewn with detritus, including the husk of a burnt-out vehicle.

Police used water cannon to disperse the protesters, who sought refuge on the university campus, where they were pursued and beaten with batons.

The university's rector Julieta Castellanos intervened in an attempt to calm both sides, but she too was beaten to the floor.

Elsewhere in the capital, another crowd gathered in front of the Supreme Court -- which had sanctioned the move against Zelaya -- demanding that coup leaders "get out."

At the same time protesters across the country began a march on the capital and San Pedro Sula, the country's economic capital.

As unrest played out, the head of the the Washington-based Organization of America States, Jose Miguel Insulza, said that foreign ministers from the regional block would be dispatched to Honduras "as soon as possible."

In Mexico, Zelaya continued a visit aimed at shoring up international backing for his government.

 

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