MANAGUA, NICARAGUA, JULY 28 -- An unidentified Nicaraguan who one witness said had been acting "deranged" was shot and seriously wounded this afternoon by a Nicaraguan policeman at the gate of the U.S. Embassy, police officials and U.S. diplomats said.

Police Chief Doris Tijerino and U.S. Embassy spokesman Alberto Fernandez gave conflicting versions of the shooting.

In a brief statement, Fernandez said the man was leaving the embassy grounds at about 4 p.m. and "exchanged words" with the Sandinista policeman on guard duty outside. He did not explain why the man had been on embassy property.

He said the policeman fired twice after the man "again entered" embassy property.

Tijerino said the man had forced his way past the embassy's outer gate, was expelled by embassy personnel and tried a second time to enter. She said the policeman tried to restrain the man before shooting him in the groin. The policeman suffered several broken teeth in the scuffle, she said.

She said the man was shot outside the embassy grounds.

British student Adam Holloway saw the man minutes before the shooting sitting barefoot and hugging his knees just inside the gate. "He seemed deranged," Holloway said.