Unsolved mystery of missing Mexican students sparks protest – Part 1

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    We turn now to Mexico for a disturbing story of dozens of college students gone missing and the hunt to find what happened to them.

    Hari Sreenivasan reports.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    It's become an increasingly common sight across Guerrero province in Southern Mexico: police searching for the possible mass grave of 43 college students who vanished more than a month ago. Their case has grabbed nationwide attention, but so far has yielded more questions than answers.

  • Mexican Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam:

  • JESUS MURILLO KARAM, Attorney General, Mexico (through interpreter):

    We have been very careful about giving precise information, to not speculate, to work with facts and not imagination. And this is why the information that we give is exactly at the stage that it's at and the conditions that it's at.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    What is known is that the students were last seen in the town of Iguala, roughly 80 miles south of Mexico City. They'd been raising money to protest funding cuts at their teachers college, when they disappeared on the night of September 26.

    Investigators say local police opened fire on the group, at the mayor's orders. Then, they allegedly handed over the students to a drug gang with ties to the mayor, who has now gone into hiding.

    The gang's leader and several members have since been arrested, but the case remains unsolved and the fate of the students unknown. The lack of results has sparked public outrage and increasingly violent protests. Just last week, demonstrators in Iguala set fire to the town hall.

    Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto insisted Wednesday that he shares the outrage, as he met with the students' families for the first time.

  • PRESIDENT ENRIQUE PEÑA NIETO, Mexico (through interpreter):

    The president of the republic is indignant before these incidents. And I also became very impatient. The ongoing investigations will soon allow us to determine the whereabouts and broaden the search to find the missing students.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Pena Nieto pledged to improve communication, starting with a panel to act as liaison between investigators and the families.

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