Demonstrations escalated in Mexico's Guerrero state on Monday, with protesters throwing Molotov cocktails and setting fire to a government building. Protesters are reportedly demanding the state governor's resignation over the whereabouts of 43 students who have been missing from the city of Iguala since a confrontation with police in September.
Video footage shows flames and black smoke pouring out of the windows of the government headquarters building in the state capital city of Chilpancingo.
Another video shows masked protesters torching framed photos of Governor Angel Aguirre and other items that were taken from government headquarters and piled in the streets. Demonstrators are seen in separate footage yelling up against lines of police in riot gear before toppling a bread truck.
Monday's events reportedly started when a group of teachers union members tried to access the state congressional building, but were blocked by police, a government official told the Associated Press.
According to local reports, with numbers swelled by hundreds of students from Ayotzinapa teachers' college, the group began its assault on the government headquarters around 11am. The students, or normalistas as they are known in Mexico, reportedly blockaded the building, chaining exits shut and locking some 1,500 people inside.
Héctor Ibáñez, a 36-year-old government supervisor, told VICE News: "We ran to shut off the computers and lock up the offices, but as soon as we got down to the main lobby it was too late. They had chained the doors closed and locked the entrances, and they used shopping carts to make barricades."
Later in the afternoon, around 4pm, women and disabled people were allowed out of the building. The demonstrators began burning the state building a few hours later.
According to Ibáñez, at 5pm anti-riot police managed to open a door and allow around 50 people out of the building. "Lots of the people who were let out then charged the normalistas out of anger and because they had felt so helpless after being locked inside all day," he said. "When the normalistas saw that personnel were being let out things got really violent."
Demonstrators then stormed the building and reportedly threw rocks and molotov cocktails at the headquarters. Ibáñez added, however: "We didn't see the attack as being against us, but rather toward the governor."
The demonstrations are the latest in a series of events throughout the country demanding justice for the students from the Iguala teachers' training college who have been missing for weeks.
Students at the historically leftist institution in the southern city began protesting last month. Demonstrators and police officers clashed, with officers killing six of the students in two separate shooting incidents. On September 26, police officers were reportedly seen shoving the 43 missing students into vans and driven away. This is the last time they were seen.
The officers were reportedly connected with a local drug cartel, which was also believed to have ties with the family of the mayor of Iguala.
A government employee in her mid-20s, who works at the ravaged building, told VICE News that those responsible for Monday's events should be punished. She described Monday's attacks as typical methods employed by the normalistas, citing previous situations in which she has been forced to run out of her office.
"This, of course, is not a justification of the deplorable and cowardly acts that have occurred these past days, and the parents and students have every right to be outraged — every human being with a family should be outraged by what has happened to them," she said, explaining it was important to note the good and bad of both the Ayotzinapos and the government.
In the last week, mass graves were uncovered that are feared to hold the bodies of the students. Authorities announced they had uncovered the shallow graves on October 4 with the bodies of at least 28 people.
While the badly burned bodies have not been identified, Aguirre has said with certainty that not all of the bodies belong to the students. "I can say that some of the bodies, according to the work of forensics experts, do not correspond to the youths," he said, according to the BBC.
Separately, ministerial police officers have been detained after a roadside shooting on Sunday involving a van carrying a group of vacationing students from the private college Tec de Monterrey. In what prosecutors are calling a mistaken identity situation, the students were traveling through Chilpancingo on their way back from Acapulco when police officers attempted to stop the vehicle.
The trip was unfortunately timed, as an officer had just been killed in a separate encounter with kidnappers. Fearing they were in danger, the travelers reportedly did not stop at the checkpoint when prompted by police, who were allegedly not in uniform. According to state prosecutors, officers thought they heard a sound similar to a gunshot and opened fire. A German student, Kim Fritz Kaiser, is said to be in stable condition.
Additional reporting by Daniel Hernandez and Andrea Noel.
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