Striking oil workers stormed a police station, killing a police officer and injuring 15 others to free a jailed union leader in the Argentine province of Santa Cruz. The government sent some 300 national guardsmen to disperse protestors in response to the clash.

The clashes erupted in the Patagonian City of Las Heras, as more than 200 oil workers tried to free a union leader who had been detained on Monday. Witnesses say that protestors surrounded the police station, trying to overrun the building by throwing rocks. Security forces fought them back with tear gas and rubber bullets. Authorities have yet to determine whether the police officer died from a bullet wound or injuries during the fighting. The violence erupted at the start of the third week of a strike by workers seeking tax exemptions for low-wage earners who work for the Spanish-owned Repsol-YPF and Vintage Petroleum Inc., a small U.S. company. The workers had blocked a key national highway throughout the Patagonian province. Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez formed a Crisis Committee made up of national border guards and federal police to control protestors.

Free Speech Radio News, Marie Trigona

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