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MEXICAN ARMY DENIES SOLDIERS TORTURED REBELS

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The army commander in southern Mexico denied his soldiers tortured or executed rebels during an uprising this month and called a report by a U.S.-based human-rights group unfounded.

Gen. Miguel Angel Godinez Bravo held a rare news conference after Physicians for Human Rights said at least five rebels were taken prisoner, tied up and shot in the head in fighting in Chiapas, Mexico's southernmost province.The group said autopsy reports and photographs of the five bodies contradict a Jan. 7 report by Mexico's attorney general that concluded the rebels had not been executed.

It called Mexico's conclusion "premature" and said the report failed to mention wrist marks indicating the rebels were tied as well as details of the wounds and the weapons used.

B "The army does not give the coup de grace," said Godinez Bravo, surrounded by warplanes and helicopters at an air base in the state capital.

The government said the uprising claimed 107 lives before fighting subsided after the government's unilateral cease-fire Jan. 12. Church officials say the death toll was far higher, possibly in the hundreds.

Fourteen soldiers were killed in combat and 44 were wounded, Godinez Bravo said.