Two Cabinet ministers and three journalists were among the 50 people injured here Monday in a clash between police and protesting students, Guatemalan authorities said.

The trouble began when students opposed to planned changes in the curriculum for aspiring primary teachers tried to take Education Minister Cynthia del Aguila hostage.

Del Aguila was presiding over an event at Guatemala City's Parque de la Industria when dozens of students from normal schools - which prepare elementary education teachers - surrounded the minister in a bid to force her to abandon the proposed changes.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla rushed to the scene and sought to persuade the students to free his Cabinet colleague. When the protesters refused, he ordered riot police to extract Del Aguila by force.

The cops deployed tear gas and pepper spray and the protesters responded by throwing rocks and bottles before dispersing.

Suffering from the affects of the pepper spray, Del Aguila was taken to a hospital after the incident, fire rescue spokesman Sergio Vasquez told the press.

Lopez Bonilla was hit in the arm by a flying object, but insisting on remaining at the scene to oversee the police operation, the Interior Ministry said.

Three reporters, four cops and more than 40 students were also hurt, fire rescue said.

The proposed overhaul of the normal school curriculum would increase the length of the degree program from three years to five years.

Protests against the initiative began more than two months ago. EFE