Latin America & Caribbean

Arrests in Mexico after protests over student deaths

Policemen block the wooden door of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto"s ceremonial palace during a protest 8 Oct 2014 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Policemen block the wooden door of President Enrique Pena Nieto's ceremonial palace during the protest

The Mexican authorities have arrested at least 14 students in Mexico City after protests over the suspected murder of 43 fellow students.

The protesters attacked the National Palace, burning the main door and painting slogans on the walls.

The protests came a day after the authorities said hit men from a gang had murdered the 43 students in the town of Iguala in Guerrero state.

Protests also took place in Guerrero's state capital, Chilpancingo.

Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam said on Friday that the students had been killed by criminals acting on local police orders.

He said three alleged gang members had claimed the students were handed over to them by the police.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Protesters burned cars in front of government buildings in Chilpancingo, Guerrero state

Thousands of protesters across the country have taken to the streets in the past few weeks to complain about the government's handling of the case.

Mr Murillo Karam said videotaped confessions showed that gang members had killed the students, then burned and dumped the bodies in a landfill site in Cocula, a city near Iguala.

He said the local mayor of Iguala, who is now under arrest, had ordered police to stop the students disrupting a speech his wife was making in the town.

The missing students from a teacher training college in Ayotzinapa, in Guerrero state, had travelled to nearby Iguala to protest against what they said were discriminatory hiring practices, and to collect funds for their college.

But they went missing after clashes with the police.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Protesters in Mexico City lie down to highlight the disappearance of the 43 students

More than 70 people have been arrested in connection with the disappearances, including the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, who were detained in Mexico City last Tuesday.

President Enrique Pena Nieto on Sunday left on a six-day trip to China and Australia despite heavy criticism that he should not be leaving because of the crisis.

Correspondents say the disappearance of the students has severely damaged his attempts to move attention away from years of drug violence towards the economic reforms that have won him international praise.

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