MEXICO CITY, Nov 8 – Suspected gang members in Mexico confessed to killing more than 40 missing students and incinerating their remains in a case that shocked the country, the attorney general said Friday. But Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam warned that it would be difficult to identify the charred remains and that authorities will continue to consider the students as missing until DNA tests confirm the identities.
“I am angry, sad and Mexican society is too,” said Murillo Karam, who delivered the news in a meeting with relatives of the missing in an airport hangar in Chilpancingo, capital of the violence-plagued southern state of Guerrero. Authorities have been searching for 43 students since police attacked their buses in the southern city of Iguala on September 26, allegedly under orders of the mayor and his wife in violence that left six people dead.
The three suspects said the students were killed after they were handed over to them between Iguala and the neighbouring town of Cocula by police linked to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, Murillo Karam said. The bodies were set on fire with gasoline, tires, firewood and plastic in an inferno that lasted 14 hours, he said. “The fire lasted from midnight to 2.00pm the next day. The criminals could not handle the bodies (for three hours) due to the heat,” he said.
The suspects then crushed the remains, stuffed them in bags and tossed them in a river. The suspects were not sure how many students they received but one of them said there were more than 40. Before the announcement, relatives of the missing said they would not accept that their children were killed until they get the results of independent Argentine forensic experts.
Murillo Karam said the remains would be analysed by experts in an Austrian university. Dozens of people have been arrested, including Guerreros Unidos members, 36 Iguala and Cocula police officers and Iguala’s ousted mayor, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda. The mayoral couple were detained in a gritty Mexico City district on Tuesday after more than a month on the run.