CHILPANCINGO Mexico (Reuters) - Demonstrators set fire to the local legislature building on Wednesday in the capital of the southwestern state of Guerrero in protests over the apparent massacre of 43 students by corrupt police and thugs from drug gangs.
Violent demonstrations rocked several other states, where protesters blocked an airport and damaged the local office of President Enrique Pena Nieto’s ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).
In Guerrero’s capital of Chilpancingo, members of a teachers union set fire to the session hall in the state assembly building while also torching several cars outside.
Firefighters extinguished the blaze and no injuries were reported. Protesters also set a fire at administrative offices of the state’s education department.
Anger has intensified in Mexico since Attorney General Jesus Murillo said last week that evidence suggests 43 missing trainee teachers were murdered by gangsters, incinerated in a bonfire at a garbage dump and their ashes thrown in a river.
The students were abducted by corrupt police in September, Murillo said.
The protests have led to mass cancellations this week in the hotels of Acapulco, the famous beach resort, ahead of a long holiday weekend. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters scuffled with riot police and burned PRI offices in Chilpancingo.
“God willing, this type of vandalism does not repeat itself, this is not the way,” said resident Constantino Garcia. “I think that this is not what society hopes for when demanding justice.”
Tens of thousands of Mexicans have taken to the streets in recent weeks in peaceful protests over the government’s handling of the case of the missing students, which has become the biggest challenge yet to Pena Nieto.
The president is on a trip to China this week, which infuriated protesters and relatives of the students. They believe he cares more about Mexico’s business interests than trying to deal with the gang violence that has ravaged much of the country for years.
In neighboring Michoacan state, which has also been a focal point of drug gang violence, students blocked the main entrance to the state capital’s airport, a state police spokesman said.
Another group of demonstrators broke windows, furniture and computers at local PRI offices in the capital of Morelia, according to police.
Local media also showed images of masked people, purportedly student teachers, looting trucks in the state of Oaxaca, while another group took over a toll booth station in the state of Chiapas and burned several cars.
Reporting by Alberto Fajardo in Chilpancingo and Michael O'Boyle in Mexico City; Editing by Ken Wills