One thousand police officers and soldiers swarmed into this small southern Mexican town, firing tear gas, breaking down doors and arresting 167 rebel sympathizers they said had "held the town hostage."

People scattered through the streets, and hundreds fought police with poles during a raid that Gov. Roberto Albores Guillen insisted was intended to "bring the town into conformity with the law.""We don't care if they're sympathizers of the Zapatista National Liberation Army or if they're Muslims. All we care about is that they respect the law," he said in a telephone interview from the state capital, Tuxtla Gutierrez.

The governor said Wednesday's raid was peaceful, but television images showed state police kicking people and beating them with wooden poles. A villager's face was covered in blood. Authorities said no one was injured, but townsfolk said dozens were hurt.

Some of the officers carried assault rifles, and they broke down doors to drag suspects from their beds in the early morning raid. Helicopters flew overhead.

Late Wednesday, the government news agency Notimex reported that 151 of the 167 people arrested had been released. Six men were charged with illegal detention and the other 10 were being held until they could appear before a judge, the report said.