Vigilantes in Mexico students search
Hundreds of members of self-defence groups join the search in the Mexican town of Iguala for 43 missing students who disappeared almost two weeks ago. None of the missing are known to have crime connections:
The students, from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, travelled to the nearby town of Iguala to protest against what they perceived as discriminatory hiring practices for teachers.
After a day of protests and fundraising, they wanted to make their way back to their college.
Accounts of what happened next differ.
Members of the student union say they hitched a lift aboard three local buses, but the police says the students seized the buses.
In the hours which followed, six people were killed when armed men opened fire on the three buses and that of a third division football team which they presumably mistook for one carrying students.
Three students, a footballer, the driver of one of the buses and a woman in a taxi were shot dead. Many more were injured.
Municipal police gave chase to the students, and are believed to have fired at them.
Twenty-two officers have been detained in connection with the shooting.
But there are also reports of other armed men opening fire on the students. Eight people not belonging to the municipal police have also been arrested.
Following the incident on the night of 26 September, 57 students were reported missing.
On 30 September it was announced that 13 of them had returned to their homes.
One name was found to have appeared in the list of the missing twice, leaving 43 students unaccounted for.
On 4 October, prosecutors announced they had found six shallow graves containing the remains of at least 28 people.
Authorities are investigating the possible involvement of a local drug gang called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors, a pun, since the state’s name is Guerrero), led by a thug nicknamed El Chucky, and are affiliated with the Beltran Leyva cartel. Additionally, Iguala’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca Velazquez, his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, and the police chief have not been seen since the events on 26 September. However, so far the biggest suspect is Mexico’s Police
The state prosecutor investigating why the police opened fire on students from their vehicles has found mass graves in Iguala — the small industrial city where the confrontations occurred — containing 28 badly burned and dismembered bodies.
The prosecutors had already arrested 22 police officers after the clashes, saying the officers secretly worked for, or were members of, a local gang. Now they are investigating whether the police apprehended the students after the confrontation and deliberately turned them over to the local gang. Two witnesses in custody told prosecutors that the gang then killed the protesters on the orders of a leader known as El Chucky.
According to witnesses,
More police officers arrived, accompanied by gunmen in plainclothes. Prosecutors have now identified these shooters as members of a cell of assassins called “Guerreros Unidos” or “Warriors United,” who work for the Beltran Leyva cartel. The cartel’s head Hector Beltran Leyva was arrested last week following the incident.
Federal agents are now in charge instead of local police.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has vowed to identify and punish those responsible for the recent disappearance of 43 students after clashes with police.
On one front, the September 26 murders of six people in Iguala, Guerrero, has plunged the conflict-ridden state south of Mexico City into renewed political turmoil.
Paco Almaraz features the governor of the state of Guerrero in the burn-out unit (in Spanish),