MEXICO CITY (AP) — Three employees of a polling company were rescued Tuesday from a mob in southern Mexico that beat them bloody after apparently mistaking them for thieves.
Inhabitants of the town of Centla, in the Gulf coast state of Tabasco, attacked five employees of the SIMO Consulting firm, including two women and three men. Three of the poll workers, including one woman, were held for hours and beaten, while two others were protected by a local official.
The company said in a statement that the Monday night attack left three of its employees injured, one seriously. The mob apparently mistook them for thieves. The company denied they were involved in any illegal acts.
The pollsters were freed Tuesday morning in a joint operation by federal police, marines and soldiers.
"People cannot take the law into their own hands," state Interior Secretary Gustavo Rosario said. "The state government condemns these acts."
Similar mob incidents have been incited in Mexico by false reports of crimes.
Last October, a mob killed and burned the bodies of two pollsters conducting a survey about tortilla consumption in a small town southeast of Mexico City. The mob had accused the men of molesting a local girl, but the girl later said she had never even seen the two before.