MEXICO CITY (AFP) – The disappearance of 43 students after an attack by gang-affiliated police has triggered a wave of outrage in Mexico over a shocking example of collusion between authorities and organised crime.
Mexicans have been exposed to untold horrors in a drug war that has left 80,000 people dead since 2006, but the latest discovery of mass graves linked to the case has caused an uproar.
Tens of thousands of people held protests across the country to demand the return of the 43 students, who were studying to become teachers in the violence-wracked southern state of Guerrero.
The students vanished after police linked to the Guerreros Unidos gang attacked buses they had seized in the city of Iguala, 200 kilometres (125 miles) south of Mexico City.
A mass grave containing 28 bodies was found outside the city on Saturday and authorities announced on Thursday the discovery of four more pits. Suspects told authorities that students were dumped in the unmarked graves.
While officials stress that it will take time to identify the victims, the grim discoveries have raised fears about the fate of the 43 students.
Prosecutors want to question Iguala’s Mayor Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and the city police chief, but all three have apparently gone into hiding.
Pain, anger and shame are three recurring words in Mexican media to sum up the national sentiment – pain for the missing and their families, anger against the authorities and shame for Mexico, which has been urged by the United Nations, the United States and human rights groups to get to the bottom of the crime.