Six police officers were killed and 15 others wounded Friday when they tried to evict squatters from a rural estate in the northeastern province of Canindeyu, Paraguayan authorities said.

The clash took place on the Morumbi property, a spread of 2,000 hectares (4,938 acres) located some 380 kilometers (236 miles) northeast of this capital.

"We are in an extreme situation. We had information that (the peasants) were armed, so we formed a team of more than 200 men to go the place and generally negotiate with (the occupiers)," Canindeyu provincial police official Walter Gomez told Primero de Marzo radio in Asuncion.

"But these people fired directly at the police," he said, adding that the gunmen at Morumbi "cannot be just peasants seeking land."

Gomez acknowledged, however, that police have no information implicating the shadowy EPP rebel group in the violence, though officials say the insurgents have been infiltrating the landless peasants movement in the region.

The director of the Canindeyu regional hospital, Gustavo Gonzalez, told the capital radio station his institution is treating roughly 80 police and squatters hurt in the confrontation at Morumbi.

Five patients suffered serious injuries and will be flown to Asuncion for treatment, Gonzalez said. EFE