A mass grave with the burned remains of about 20 people has been discovered by authorities in southern Mexico. It’s believed that the bodies could be those of about 43 teacher college students who went missing after joining protests for teacher’s rights in the area, reports Reuters.
The last time the students were seen, they were being dragged into a police van in the Mexican state of Guerrero, where they had gone to protest. The mass grave–made up of six smaller graves–was discovered on the outskirts of a town called Iguala after an anonymous tip was made to authorities.
The security situation in Guerrero has seriously deteriorated as gangs have emerged from the broken pieces of drug cartels and battles over turf.
In Iguala, where the mass grave was found, state prosecutors suspect that local officials are in cahoots with criminal gangs. The phenomena is becoming more common throughout many areas of Mexico. The mayor of Iguala and his security chief are both fugitives, and it’s believed that both may have been involved in the violence against the students. Officials said they are working on identifying the remains found in the mass grave.
BBC News reports that according to a local official who would only speak on the condition of anonymity, the graves were still relatively fresh, but the remains could not be immediately identified.
The missing students were part of a group who were fired upon by police when they were protesting. Six people were killed when authorities shot at their bus. Twenty-two police are now in custody over the shootings.
After the buses were fired upon, most of the survivors were taken away in police vans. More than 50 students disappeared after that. Some people went into hiding and just recently re-emerged.
The governor of the state where the students went missing and the mass grave was found, Angel Aguirre, had admitted publicly that there are photographs of police taking some of the students away. The photos are from surveillance footage that show 10 students being hauled off.
The discovery of the unidentified bodies has set off a wave of anger and protests among other students who believe their classmates might be among the bodies in the grave. On Saturday night, Aguirre’s house in the capital city was the site of a large protest where gas bombs were thrown at the building’s perimeter and a car was flipped over.
Aguirre did say that 30 people have been detained over the disappearances and deaths of the students who might be in the mass grave.