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Mexico says missing students not among bodies found in mass grave

Yuri Cortez, AFP | A picture of the virgin of Guadalupe left at a mass grave site near the Mexican town of Iguala, October 2014.

Mexican officials said Tuesday that DNA from 43 students who went missing more than two weeks ago didn’t match samples taken at a mass grave uncovered in the wake of their disappearance, deepening the intrigue surrounding the southern city of Iguala.

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Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam announced that forensic laboratories had returned the first results from the mass grave containing 28 bodies, but the DNA did not correspond with samples that relatives of the missing students had provided to authorities.

He nevertheless cautioned that he was still waiting for DNA results from an undisclosed number of corpses found in other graves outside the city of Iguala, 200 kilometres south of Mexico City in the state of Guerrero.

Mexico’s top lawyer also announced the arrest of 14 other local police officers in Guerrero accused of abducting the students and handing them over to a drug gang.

Two hit men have told investigators that they killed 17 of the students, but authorities stress that none of the deaths will be confirmed until DNA results are finalized.

Hundreds of federal police were reportedly searching for the students and treating their disappearance as a kidnapping in a case that has sparked protests in Guerrero and gained wide attention outside Mexico.

Authorities say municipal police officers colluded with the Guerreros Unidos gang in a night of violence in Iguala on September 26 that left six people dead and the 43 aspiring teachers missing.

Witnesses told FRANCE 24 last week they had seen Iguala police round up the students and fired at them when they resisted.

The students, from a teacher training college near the state capital Chilpancingo, by many accounts were in Iguala for a demonstration against cuts to their state-financed school, which is known for its role in social justice movements.

Human rights groups said the student skirmish with police appears to have begun after they tried to steal buses to take to and from the demonstration.

Gangland

The case has highlighted Mexico's struggle to purge corrupt police and officials in towns dominated by drug cartels.

Authorities have arrested 26 Iguala police officers and eight other people, including four Guerreros Unidos gang members.

A police administrator was also detained for changing the numbers of the town's patrol cars to conceal their role in the mass disappearance.

Meanwhile, Iguala's mayor, his wife and police chief are on the run and wanted for questioning, amid allegations that they unleashed the officers on the students to stop them from showing up at municipal events.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto vowed Tuesday to take action "to avoid a repeat of events like those in Iguala."

In addition to the new arrests in Guerrero, authorities said a Guerreros Unidos leader, Benjamin Mondragon, killed himself rather than surrender to federal police who had surrounded him in the neighbouring state of Morelos on Tuesday.

Demonstrators in Guerrero have called for the resignation of Governor Angel Aguirre, who said the violent protests that have erupted in response to the scandal were aimed at destabilising his state.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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