Gang members in Mexico have reportedly admitted to the killing of 43 students whose disappearance sparked national outrage and made international headlines.
Over 70 people have been arrested in connection with the crime, three of whom admitted to setting fire to the students at a garbage dump in the city of Iguala in Guerrero state, where the students went missing.
The government has stated that the students are indeed likely to be dead.
“Some hours ago I informed the families of the missing youths on the advances in the investigation taking place,” said Attorney General Jesus Murillo. “I know that the information we have obtained causes great pain in the families, a pain that everyone shares in solidarity. The statements and confessions that we have gathered from investigations carried out unfortunately points to the murder of a large number of people in the area of Cocula.”
The students had gone missing on 26 September as they were travelling by bus in the Mexican city of Iguala.
Witness accounts report that the bus came under attack by police personnel which resulted in the death of six people.
Several police officers have been arrested in connection with the attack, and have reportedly confessed to having colluded with a local drug gang, known as Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), to deliver the students into the hands of gang members.
Former Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife María de los Angeles Pineda Villa are suspected of having ordered the kidnapping of the students (photo: Fox News)
Police say the fire burned the bodies for 15 hours and that the killers later sifted through the remains to remove identifying markers such as teeth.
“The high level of degradation caused by the fire in the remains make it very difficult to extract the DNA that will allow an identification,” Murillo said.
The mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, was arrested along with his wife after being on the run for weeks.
Officials say that Abarca ordered the kidnapping of the students, who were planning to stage a protest where his wife was set to give a speech.