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More gas hike protests in Mexico a day after clash at border

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Thousands of Mexicans marched in the capital Monday to complain about a gasoline price increase, demonstrating a day after police in Sonora state fought a pitched, three-hour battle to free a border rail crossing blocked by protesters.

Demonstrators have been protesting across Mexico against a 20 percent hike in gasoline prices that took effect on New Year's Day, and the anger has occasionally erupted into violence, including several days of looting last week.

The Sonora state government said late Sunday that two police officers were injured and two protesters were arrested in the confrontation at the border rail crossing in Nogales.

Authorities said officers who tried to break up the blockade were attacked with rocks for about three hours and responded by "firing rubber bullets into the air."

Video aired by local media showed officers firing shotguns — commonly used to launch bean bags or rubber projectiles — at rock-tossing demonstrators.

The government said 11 trainloads with about 1,000 cars of merchandise headed for the United States were backed up by the protest. It said the blockade had threatened to temporarily shut down Ford Motor Co.'s stamping and assembly plant in Hermosillo.

On Monday, President Enrique Pena Nieto brought together labor and business leaders to talk about softening the gas price hike's blow to Mexican families. He said business leaders were committed to not allowing indiscriminate price increases passed off as due to gas prices.

Within hours of the meeting, several thousand people marched along Mexico City main boulevard calling for Pena Nieto's resignation and burning him and U.S. President-elect Donald Trump in effigy.

In the border state of Baja California, the state tourism department acknowledged Sunday that gas stations there had run out of gas due to protest blockades of a distribution terminal in previous days, but said that supplies had been re-established.

On Saturday, a lone protester drove his truck into a line of police guarding a fuel distribution terminal in Baja California. Federal police said seven officers were injured in the incident in Rosarito, near the border city of Tijuana.

Protests have largely been peaceful, and the looting seen last week has largely subsided. Hundreds of businesses were ransacked and more than 1,500 people were detained during that unrest.