Mass grave found near Mexico town

  • By JOSE ANTONIO RIVERA
  • Saturday, October 4, 2014 9:33pm
  • News

IGUALA, Mexico — A clandestine grave site with multiple burial pits was found outside this city where violence last weekend resulted in six deaths and the disappearance of 43 students after protesters clashed with police, Mexican officials said Saturday.

Guerrero State Prosecutor Inaky Blanco said the grave site was on the outskirts of Iguala, a town about 120 miles (200 kilometers) south of Mexico City.

He did not say how many bodies were in the graves and declined to speculate on whether the remains could be the missing students. “It would be irresponsible” to jump to conclusions before tests to identify the bodies, Blanco said.

Guerrero state Gov. Angel Aguirre said the victims had been “savagely slaughtered.” About 100 soldiers, marines and federal and state police cordoned off the area and kept journalists away from the burial pits, which were found on a hillside in rugged territory of Iguala’s poor Pueblo Viejo district. Juan Lopez Villanueva, an official with the federal government’s National Human Rights Commission, said a total of six pits had been discovered but did not specify how many bodies were found. He also did not comment on whether the remains could be the students.

Blanco said eight more people had been arrested, adding to the 22 Iguala city police officers detained after a confrontation with student protesters late Sept. 27 set off a series of violent incidents in which six people were shot to death and the 43 young people were reported missing.

The prosecutor has said state investigators had obtained videos showing that local police arrested an undetermined number of students after the clash and took them away.

Blanco said some of the eight newly arrested people were members of an organized crime gang, adding that some of them had given key clues leading to the discovery of the mass grave.

The governor said earlier in the week that the investigation into the students’ disappearance was looking at possible involvement of organized crime, which he charged has infiltrated the town government.

Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer for a local human rights group who is assisting the families of the missing students, said before the burial site was found that relatives believed police turned the youths over to a drug gang.

“The suspicion, the hypothesis, is that they are being held by organized crime gangs that operated in collusion with the police,” Rosales said.

State prosecutors have said the first bloodshed occurred last weekend when city police shot at buses that had been hijacked by protesting students from a teachers college. Three youths were killed and 25 people had wounds.

A few hours later, unidentified masked men fired shots at two taxis and a bus carrying a soccer team on the main highway, killing two people on the bus and one in a taxi.

Violence is frequent in Guerrero, a southern state where poverty feeds social unrest and drug gangs clash over territory.

The Aytozinapa Normal school attended by the missing students, like many other schools in Mexico’s “rural teachers college” system, is known for militant and radical protests that often involve hijacking buses and delivery trucks.

In December 2011, two students from Aytozinapa died in a clash with police on the highway that leads to the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco. Students had allegedly hijacked buses and blocked the road to press demands for more funding and assured jobs after graduation. Two state police officers were charged in the shootings.

During that confrontation, students apparently set fire to pumps at a gas station on the highway when federal and state police moved in to quell the protest, and a gas station employee later died of burns suffered in the attack.

Associated Press writers Mark Stevenson and Maria Verza in Mexico City contributed to this report.

More in News

A map shows the location of a safety corridor project along the Sterling Highway between Sterling and Soldotna. (Photo courtesy of DOT&PF)
Sterling highway project to have limited environmental impact, assessment finds

The stretch highway to be improved reaches from Fred Meyer in Soldotna to the bridge over Moose River in Sterling

Donated blood is prepared for storage and eventual transport at the Blood Bank of Alaska’s Juneau location. There is a statewide shortage of donated blood. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘National blood crisis’ presents challenges in Alaska

Donation centers contend with COVID, weather and other disruptions as they work to stock hospitals.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., speaks to reporters alongside, from left, Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., during a press conference regarding the Democratic party’s shift to focus on voting rights at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades)
Big voting bill faces defeat as 2 Dems won’t stop filibuster

This is the fifth time the Senate will try to pass voting legislation this Congress

Members of the Kenai and Soldotna chambers of commerce listen to a briefing by Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan during a joint luncheon at the Soldotna Sports Complex on Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Sullivan reports in from D.C.

The senator touched on infrastructure, voting rights, defense spending and the pandemic

The Alaska State Capitol building seen on Monday, Jan. 10, 2022 in Juneau, Alaska. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
State lawmakers face proposed salary hike, allowance limits

A commission voted 3-1 to raise the base salary from $50,400 a year to $64,000

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
House Speaker Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, gave a stern warning about decorum to members of the Alaska House of Representatives on the first day of the legislative session on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2022. Last year the Legislature was so divided it took a full regular session and four special sessions before work was completed.
1st day of session brings familiar tensions to Legislature

The session opened with calls for bipartisanship, but tensions were evident

Image via Alaska Board of Fisheries
Statewide shellfish meeting rescheduled

This comes after the board bumped back its Southeast and Yakutat shellfish meeting

A State of Alaska epidemiology bulletin can be found at https://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/pages/default.aspx.
State updates STI protocol after reported drop

The state has been experiencing an outbreak since 2017

The Kenai Fire Department headquarters are photographed on Feb. 13, 2018, in Kenai, Alaska. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Police identify remains found in burned car

Kenai Police and Fire departments responded to a car fire at Beaver Creek in Kenai on Jan. 7

Most Read