Gang hitmen admit to murdering 17 of 43 missing Mexican students

Two gang hitmen admitted to killing 17 of 43 students missing in southern Mexico, prosecutors said, amid fears the victims were among bodies found in a mass grave. Inaky Blanco, the chief prosecutor of violence-plagued Guerrero state, said Sunday that it would take at least 15 days to identify the 28 bodies in the clandestine grave, some of which were badly burned and in pieces. The site was found Saturday in Pueblo Viejo, an impoverished district of the city of Iguala, where the missing students were last seen on the night of September 26, some 200 kilometres south of Mexico City. Vidulfo Rosales, a lawyer helping families of the missing students, said relatives of 37 of the young people already had provided DNA samples that will be used to determine if the recovered remains belong to any of the students.

A bed of branches and tree trunks was made, on which the bodies of the victims were laid and a flammable substance was used.

Inaky Blanco, the chief prosecutor of Guerrero state

The students disappeared after Iguala municipal police officers shot at buses transporting them, and Blanco said the Guerreros Unidos gang participated in a night of violence that left six people dead, 25 wounded and 43 missing. While the students are accused of having hijacked the buses, Blanco said the motive for the attack remains under investigation. The case could become one of the worst slaughters that Mexico has witnessed since the drug war intensified in 2006, leaving 80,000 people dead to date, and by far the most horrific since President Enrique Pena Nieto took office in December 2012. Earlier Sunday, some parents and hundreds of fellow students from the missing group’s teacher training college blocked the highway between Guerrero’s capital Chilpancingo and Acapulco, voicing anger at the authorities. Some of the parents said they were shown pictures of the bodies but that they did not believe that they looked like their children.

As parents, we reject this situation. It’s not the youngsters. We know they’re holding them alive.

Manuel Martinez, father of missing teen