9:17 pm - Thursday January 17, 2019

‘Gang Massacred’ Missing Mexico Students

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Confessions by three suspected gang members indicate 43 missing college students were murdered at a landfill site before being burned beyond recognition and dumped in a river, authorities in Mexico have said.

In a sombre and lengthy news conference detailing the investigation, Attorney General Jesus Murillo said the suspects, caught a week ago, then set about removing all the evidence.

“They didn’t just burn the bodies with their clothes, they also burned the clothes of those who participated… They tried to erase every possible trace.”Video of the suspects’ alleged confessions and footage showing hundreds of charred fragments of bone and teeth fished from the river where the bodies were dumped was played during the news conference.

Mr Murillo said it would be very difficult to extract DNA to confirm that they are the students who went missing six weeks ago after clashing with police in Iguala in the southern state of Guerrero.The government would continue to view the students as missing until their identities are confirmed, he added.

“I know the enormous pain the information we’ve obtained causes the family members, a pain we all share,” Mr Murillo said.

Testimony from investigators suggests that the students, from an all-male leftist college, had clashed with the mayor of Iguala and that the city police had handed them over to a local drugs gang who murdered them.

This week, police arrested the former mayor and his wife, who the government suspects of being the probable masterminds of the abductions.

The kidnappings triggered mass protests across the country and have been the toughest challenge yet to President Enrique Pena Nieto, who vowed to restore order in Mexico after taking office two years ago.

Since 2007 around 100,000 people have died in violence linked to organised crime.

President Nieto said the findings had “shocked and offended” Mexico and pledged to round up everyone involved.The investigations will be carried out to the full, all those responsible will be punished under the law,” he said.

Dozens of police are among 74 people held in the case.

The case has forced Mr Nieto to cut short a planned visit to China next week.

Angry relatives of the missing students accused the government of announcing the suspects’ confession to clear the path for the president to leave for his trip.

“Pena Nieto should think hard about his trip,” said Felipe de la Cruz, father of one of the missing students.

“As long as there is no proof, our children are alive.”

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