The case of 43 Mexican students missing since an alleged attack by gang-linked police took another grim turn on Thursday with the discovery of new mass graves where suspects said some were buried.
Four new suspects took investigators to the site of the four pits, 200km south of Mexico City, but the number of bodies remains unknown, said Mexican federal Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam.
“They say there are remains of students,” Murillo Karam said, adding that some of the bodies appeared burned.
The discovery has put another dent on hopes of finding the students alive almost two weeks after they were pursued by Iguala police officers accused of working in tandem with the Guerreros Unidos gang.
The pits are “relatively” close to the location of another mass grave found last weekend in the southern state of Guerrero that contained at least 28 unidentified bodies, the attorney general said.
Two alleged hitmen confessed to executing 17 of the students and dumping them in the mass grave found on Saturday last week, authorities have said.
They added that it would take at least two weeks to identify the bodies through DNA analysis.
The case has outraged Mexicans, who held protests across the nations Wednesday to demand the return of the students, in a nation that has lost tens of thousands of people to drug violence since 2006.
Authorities say corrupt officers shot at buses the students had “seized” to return home on Sept. 26, sparking a night of violence that left six people dead, 25 wounded and 43 missing.
Surveillance cameras showed several students being taken away in patrol cars.
Murillo Karam said there are several lines of investigation into the motive, but that the city’s mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, his wife and the public security director are wanted for questioning.
The trio have apparently gone into hiding.
The mayor’s wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda Villa, is the sister of two former members of the Beltran Leyva drug cartel, which founded the Guerreros Unidos.
Murillo Karam did not say why the mayor and his entourage were being sought.
However, Mexican media outlets, citing an intelligence services report, say Abarca’s wife asked police to confront the students because she feared that they would interrupt a speech she was giving that night.
The mayor then reportedly told the police chief to teach a lesson to the students, who are from a teacher training college known for fomenting radical political movements.
The students say they were in Iguala to raise funds, though they had commandeered the buses to return home, a common practice among the radical aspiring teachers, according to authorities.
Guerrero chief prosecutor Inaky Blanco said authorities did not arrest Abarca before he disappeared last week because he had immunity as mayor, which was only revoked by local legislators on Thursday.
Abarca requested a 30-day leave of absence before vanishing a few days after the attacks.
Blanco said Abarca faced state charges of negligence for preferring to stay at a party and go to bed instead of stopping the violence.
The mayor “left the victims at the mercy of public security members,” Blanco said.
Four more municipal police officers have been arrested on homicide charges in the case, in addition to 22 who were detained last week.
Officials also arrested four alleged members of the Guerreros Unidos gang, which prosecutors say worked hand-in-hand with police during the assault.
Murillo Karam did not say who the four new suspects were, but their arrest brings the total of detainees to 34.
STEP TOO FAR? The mandatory COVID-19 app has unprecedented access to users’ location data and forces Android users to give access to their picture and video galleries Privacy concerns over Qatar’s COVID-19 contact tracing app, a tool that is mandatory on pain of prison, have prompted a rare backlash and forced officials to offer reassurance and concessions. Like other governments around the world, Qatar has turned to mobile phones to trace people’s movements and track who they come into contact with, allowing officials to monitor infections and alert people at risk of infection. The apps use Bluetooth to ping nearby devices, which can be contacted subsequently if a user they have been near develops symptoms or tests positive for the virus, but the resultant unprecedented access to users’ location
‘CULTURE ERADICATION’: A US official said that Beijing is trying to stamp out the Uighur culture because it is not what the Chinese Communist Party deems ‘Chinese’ The US Congress on Wednesday authorized sanctions against Chinese officials over the mass incarceration of Muslim Uighurs. The US House of Representatives voted with just one dissent in favor of the Uighur Human Rights Act. Rights groups say that at least 1 million Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims in China’s northwestern Xinjiang region have been incarcerated in what Beijing calls “re-education” camps. “If America does not speak out against human rights [violations] in China because of some commercial interest, then we lose all moral authority to speak out on human rights violations any place in the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. House Committee
UNITED STATES SpaceX launch delayed SpaceX’s launch to the International Space Station — the first crewed mission to blast off from US soil in almost a decade — was scrubbed on Wednesday due to fears of a lightning strike. With NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley strapped into the Crew Dragon capsule, the launch pad platform retracted and rocket fueling under way, SpaceX made the call to abort. “We had just simply too much electricity in the atmosphere,” NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said. UNITED STATES Chinese ministry checked Twitter has applied a fact check tag to at least two posts made in March by
Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto has admitted damaging ancient Aboriginal rock shelters in Australia’s remote Pilbara region — blasting near the 46,000-year-old heritage site to expand an iron ore mine. Traditional owners said that the culturally significant cave in Juukan Gorge, Western Australia — one of the earliest known sites occupied by Aborigines in Australia — had been destroyed in a “devastating blow” to the community. Explosives were detonated on Sunday near the site in line with state government approvals granted seven years ago, Rio Tinto said in a statement. “In 2013, ministerial consent was granted to allow Rio Tinto to conduct activity