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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mexico's Leftists Riot to Oust Governor

OAXACA, Mexico -- Oaxaca's bitter conflict spread beyond the burned wreckage left by five months of protests and a police offensive as Mexico's Congress urged the state's governor to resign and leftist leaders called for the nation to rally behind the movement.

Bands of youths roamed the cobblestone streets of the colonial city on Monday, tossing gasoline bombs, hijacking vehicles and vowing to fight on amid violence that has divided people here and across Mexico. Burned-out shells of vehicles dotted the streets.

The Mexican Congress passed a nonbinding resolution asking Oaxaca Governor Ulises Ruiz to resign -- the protesters' main demand -- while Zapatista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos and former leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called for demonstrations in other Mexican cities to support the demonstrators.

The protests began in May as a teachers' strike but quickly spiraled into chaos. Mexican President Vicente Fox, who had resisted repeated calls to send federal forces to Oaxaca, did so Saturday, setting off street battles.

Ruiz, who protesters accuse of rigging 2004 elections and oppressing dissent, has refused to step down and accused "radical groups" from Mexico City of fueling the street battles here.

Protesters, meanwhile, peacefully occupied a new city plaza where they planned to set up their latest base, about five blocks from Oaxaca's main square, which they were driven out of Sunday in a raid by about 3,500 federal riot police.

Strike-weary residents saw their hopes for a return to normality dashed once again; schools in the city remained closed Monday, despite a promise by teachers -- whose strike for higher wages ignited the battle -- to return to work. A scattering of businesses, including some stalls in the city's famous marketplace, reopened Monday, but there was little business.

Thousands of leftists and teachers marched through the city Monday chanting, "Fight, Fight, Fight! Don't stop fighting!" before confronting police guarding the main plaza.

About 2,000 protesters regrouped in a plaza just a few blocks from the square, saying they would establish it as their primary base until they could retake the main plaza.

Eight people have died in clashes since protesters took over the city in late May.