Mexican authorities searching for 43 missing college students have found human remains and are testing to see if they belong to the young men who were last seen in police custody a month ago.
The authorities came upon the new location in southern Guerrero state based on statements from four people arrested early yesterday, said a government official.
The new remains were found in Cocula, a town about 10 miles from where the students last were seen.
Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam confirmed the four arrests, and said some of those detained could be members of the Guerreros Unidos cartel responsible for the actual disappearance of the students after an attack by local police.
Two of the detainees said they received a large group of people around September 26, the date the students went missing, he added.
Investigators were trying to confirm their statements. Mexico now has a total of 56 people in custody over the case.
The students from a rural teachers college disappeared after a confrontation with police in Iguala, a city about 80 miles from Mexico City.
The authorities say the attack was ordered by Jose Luis Abarca, the mayor of Iguala who is being sought by officials, along with his wife and the city’s police chief.
Mr Murrillo Karam has said the local officers took the students to a police station and then to Cocula. At some point, they were loaded aboard a dump truck and taken, apparently still alive, to an area on the outskirts of Iguala, he said.
Mexican authorities have mounted searches for the students, spurred by increasingly violent demonstrations that included the burning of Iguala’s city hall by protesters last week.
Before yesterday’s new discovery, investigators had found a total of 11 clandestine graves containing 38 sets of human remains in the hills of Pueblo Viejo in the municipality of Iguala.
Initial DNA testing of the remains found the bodies were not those of the missing students and officials were waiting for results of second round of tests.
The crime has shaken the country and drawn international condemnation and protests for the involvement of officials and police. Last week, Guerrero Governor Angel Aguirre stepped down under heavy criticism of the state’s handling of the case and its political support of Abarca.
Rogelio Ortega Martinez, a sociologist and former university administrator, was named interim governor on Sunday.
The 59-year-old was previously secretary-general of Guerrero’s state public university. He is a former social activist and the son of a rural schoolteacher, and has close ties to the state’s ruling Democratic Revolution Party.