Anger and frustration over the missing 43 students erupted into violence on Saturday as masked protesters set fire to the door of the National Palace in Mexico City’s main square.
Tens of thousands of ordinary Mexicans have taken to the streets across the country in the past month, demanding justice for the 43 students who were abducted on 26 September by corrupt police in league with a criminal gang.
The violence broke out after a small group broke away from thousands of protesters who had marched through the city calling for President Enrique Pena Nieto to resign.
There were cheers as the blaze erupted at the door of the National Palace, the symbolic seat of Mexico’s government, but most of the crowd dispersed as armed police appeared on the rooftop. The fire was quickly extinguished, but it is the most direct assault on a government building by civilians in generations. Two people were injured.
In Chilpancingo, capital of the southern state of Guerrero where the students were abducted, angry protesters attacked government buildings and set vehicles ablaze.
The weekend’s impromptu protests came after the attorney general, Jesus Murillo Karam, announced on Friday that three members of Guerrero Unidos gang had confessed to killing, burning and burying the students in a rubbish dump on the night they were abducted.
Mr Murillo said the gang members claimed that the students were handed over to them by police, at the behest of the city’s mayor and his wife. The couple, who have alleged family ties to the gang, were captured in Mexico City last week after more than a month on the run.
“It was the state, it was the President,” chanted the crowd as the marched through Mexico City holding candles and homemade signs – cheered on by passers-by and city workers who had flanked the streets.
A phrase used by Mr Murillo to abruptly conclude Friday’s press conference has gone viral on social media. He told journalists “Ya me canse,” meaning “Enough, I’m tired.” Variations of the phrase appeared on hundreds of the homemade signs: “Enough, I am tired of living in a narco state,” and “Enough, I am tired of impunity.”
Mr Pena Nieto took office two years ago promising to restore peace in Mexico, where around 100,000 people have died and more than 25,000 have disappeared in violence linked to organised crime since 2006.
Further marches are expected to take place across Mexico this week.
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