Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico offers rewards for information on missing students

Picture of a newspaper advertisement offering a reward for information on 43 missing Mexican students on 20 October 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption The Mexican government announced the rewards in newspaper advertisements in Mexico's major papers

The Mexican government has offered rewards for information on the whereabouts of 43 students who disappeared more than three weeks ago.

The 43 from a teacher training college in the town of Ayotzinapa went missing after deadly clashes with the police.

In newspaper advertisements the government said it would pay 1.5 million pesos ($110,000, £68,000) for information about the students.

Thirty-six police officers are being questioned over their disappearance.

Deadly clashes

The rewards apply to information leading to their whereabouts or the identification of those behind their disappearance.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The relatives of the missing have complained about the slow pace of the investigation

Eyewitnesses recounted how they saw the 43 being bundled into cars by municipal police officers on 26 September near the town of Iguala, in Guerrero state.

The students had travelled to Iguala to protest and raise funds for their college.

Police opened fire on the students' buses as they were travelling back to Ayotzinapa. Six people, three of them students, were killed in the shootings.

The 43 were declared missing in the following days.

Municipal police officers arrested in connection with the clashes reportedly confessed to handing the students over to a local drug gang calling itself Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors).

No match

Nineteen burial pits have been found in the hills surrounding Iguala since, some of them following tip-offs by those in custody.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption The search for the students continues, with officers combing lagoons, mines and wells in the area
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Dogs are being used to try to track down any trace of the 43

So far, forensic tests have been carried out on 28 bodies, but they showed they were not those of the students. The identity of the bodies remains unclear.

Test are still under way on the remaining bodies and the search for the students continues.

On Monday, Jesus Pena Palacios of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said what had happened to the students could be described as a "forced disappearance".

"Without any doubt the forced disappearance of these youngsters and the killing of the six [in the clashes] is a grave violations of human rights," he added.

He also urged the Mexican government to use all tools at their disposal to expedite the search for the missing students.

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