Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico missing students: Parents begin protest bus tour

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Media captionAlpa Patel reports on the protest tour

The parents of 43 Mexican students who disappeared seven weeks ago have started a nationwide bus tour in protest at the government's handling of the case.

Hundreds of supporters joined the convoy of demonstrators in south-western Guerrero state.

It came after violent protests this week as anger over the issue mounts.

The students vanished after clashing with police on 26 September in the town of Iguala.

Thursday's protest tour began in Ayotzinapa, home to the teacher-training college where the missing group had studied.

Parents held aloft pictures of their children while others demanded the government do more to help the search.

"They have disappeared but they are not dead," Blanca Navas told the AFP news agency.

Ms Navas, mother of missing student Jorge, added: "I don't believe the government at all. They've only been saying pure lies."

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many protesters in Guerrero state are angry with the government's handling of the case

One caravan of buses was due to head north towards the US border, while another planned to drive through the country's south.

The convoys are due to meet in Mexico City next week.

Relatives organised the tour after the country's attorney general said on Saturday that suspected gangsters had confessed to killing the missing students.

He added the criminals had claimed the trainee teachers were handed to them by police.

But the government has refused to declare the missing group dead.

Instead officials say DNA tests need to be carried out on human remains to confirm their identity.

The attorney general's statement led to a wave of protest, with demonstrators torching the state legislature in Guerrero on Wednesday night.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, clashed with riot police on Tuesday

President Enrique Pena Nieto has faced widespread criticism over the crime, despite vowing to track down those responsible.

Before they disappeared, the students had travelled from Ayotzinapa to the nearby town of Iguala for a protest over workers' rights.

They vanished after clashing with police.

Timeline: Iguala disappearance

26 Sept: Students from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa travel to Iguala to protest and raise funds

Night of 26 Sept: Police stop the students, 6 people are shot dead, 43 students disappear

30 Sept: Iguala mayor Jose Luis Abarca asks for leave from his post, which is granted

4 Oct: Mass graves are found near Iguala containing 28 bodies

19 Oct: Federal police are deployed to Iguala and replace the municipal force

22 Oct: Mexico's prosecutor general says an arrest warrant has been issued for Mr Abarca, his wife and the town's police chief

23 Oct: Guerrero state governor Angel Aguirre resigns

29 Oct: President Enrique Pena Nieto meets the relatives of the missing students and promises a "renewed search plan"

4 Nov: Mr Abarca and his wife are arrested in Mexico City

7 Nov: Three gang members confess to killing students and burning their bodies, according to Mexico's attorney general

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