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Mystery of Mexico’s missing students is symptomatic of nationwide crisis

October 18, 2014

The mass graves near Iguala are not unique in Mexico. And the whereabouts of 43 male students who disappeared in the south-west state of Guerrero three weeks ago remains another mystery in a country where the missing often do not return.

It is still unclear why or under whose orders the students were abducted, but the case has heaped pressure on the government not only to solve the crime but also address the wider problem of forced disappearances that affects great swathes of Mexico.

The students were ambushed outside the town of Iguala on 26 September. The attacks left six civilians dead, at least 25 injured and 43 students missing. Many of them were last seen being driven away in a police car. The authorities have now arrested 48 suspects, including 40 police officers and several alleged members of local drug gang Guerreros Unidos (Warriors United), a splinter group of the infamous Beltran Leyva cartel. On Friday, officials said they had captured the group’s leader, Sidronio Casarrubias Salgado, along with a collaborator, weapons and vehicles.

The series of mass graves was discovered near Iguala. But the attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, announced last week that the 28 charred bodies found in the first set of graves were not those of the missing students. “Whether these corpses are those of the students or not, the situation is grave,” Mexican journalist Sanjuana Martinez told The Independent on Sunday. “If they aren’t the students’ bodies it’s just as bad, if not worse, because before there were 43 people missing in the state and now there are another 28 cases to be resolved.”

Click here to read this feature in full at The Independent on Sunday.

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