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Angry crowd kills police officer
Sunday, March 13, 2005 Posted: 1:07 PM EST (1807 GMT)

MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) -- An angry crowd killed a state police officer in southern Mexico, exacting revenge for the shooting of a taxi driver in a barroom brawl, authorities said on Saturday.

Scores of angry residents in the town of Magdalena Tequisistlan broke into a municipal government building to seize the officer, who was thrown from the third story to the town plaza, then doused with gasoline and set on fire, according to the Oaxaca state attorney general's office.

The officer reportedly had shot a taxi driver on Friday night after arguing with the man at a bar, and was later taken into custody by local authorities, in the town located 290 miles (470 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City.

Oaxaca Attorney General Patricia Villanueva said a state police commander in the area was fired for failing to react effectively as the officer was lynched.

The police response to the mob attack remained under investigation, Villanueva said. No arrests had been made in connection with the attack.

The killing came amid heightened concerns about vigilante justice in Mexico, where police are seen as inept or corrupt and people say they must take security into their own hands.

The attack in Oaxaca resembled a November incident in Mexico City in which an angry crowd beat and burned alive two plainclothes federal agents and severely injured a third.

In that instance, the killings were captured on live television long before riot police arrived.

President Vicente Fox responded by firing Mexico City's police chief and the head of the Federal Preventative Police, blaming Mexico City's government for tolerating vigilantism. Dozens of people accused of participating in that attack have been arrested.