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DATE=10/6/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT (L) TITLE=MILITANT KIDNAP (UPDATE) NUMBER=2-254737 BYLINE=GREG FLAKUS DATELINE=MEXICO CITY CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: In Mexico City, the leader of the student strike that has shut down the campus of the National Autonomous University of Mexico since April has reappeared after fellow militants claimed he was kidnapped. As V-O-A's Greg Flakus reports from Mexico City, there are many, even among the student strikers, who are expressing skepticism about the supposed abduction. TEXT: In the early morning hours, just before sunrise in Mexico City, witnesses saw Alejandro Echevarria Zarco back on the university campus, that he has helped keep closed for the past 169 days. The sighting added another twist to an already confused story. According to several student militants, Mr.Echevarria was grabbed by a group of about 15 men Tuesday.evening. They say the men beat several of Mr. Echevarria's companions, preventing them from helping him, and then sped away with him in a white van. After he reappeared on campus, the strike leader told reporters he was held for several hours by men he described as security agents. He said he was asked questions about the strike but was not mistreated. But several moderate members of the student strike committee say they have doubts about Mr. Echevaria's version of events. Francisco Barnes, rector of the university known locally by its Spanish acronym, UNAM, says he considers the kidnapping story the result of internal problems inside the student strike committee. /// Barnes Act (Spanish) /// He says this kind of thing can be expected when the leaders of the most radical student faction feel they are losing control. The UNAM rector says he doubts there was a kidnapping because the strike leaders have very little credibilty. He also says they are the ones guilty of kidnapping the university campus and preventing more than 200-thousand students from continuing their studies. ///OPT /// The alleged abduction of Mr. Echevarria came only hours after the president of Mexico's Senate Justice Commission called for an investigation of claims that leftist guerrilla groups have smuggled weapons onto the UNAM campus. Presidential hopeful Francisco Labastida of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party made the accusation in campaign speeches. He says the UNAM student militants are being armed by forces of the Popular Revolutionary Army, a guerrilla group operating in the states of Oaxaca and Guerrero. Attempts to negotiate an end the more than five-month- long student strike have failed repeatedly. University officials say the vast majority of students want the strike to end so they can return to classes, but that the strike is being prolonged by a small group of radical Marxists. (Signed) NEB/GF/ENE/JP 06-Oct-1999 17:07 PM EDT (06-Oct-1999 2107 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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