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Bodies In Mexico Mass Grave Apparently Not Those Of Missing Students

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish. Mexican authorities continue to search for 43 students who, according to the country's attorney general, were abducted by police working for drug traffickers. Several mass graves were uncovered near where the students were abducted two weeks ago, but the government says DNA tests prove the remains there are not the bodies of the students.

NPR's Carrie Kahn has the latest on the investigation.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Mexico's attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam told reporters the 28 bodies found in the graves do not match those of the missing students.

He didn't say whose bodies they were.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

JESUS MURILLO KARAM: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: All Murillo would say is that the discovery of so many graves confirms how dangerous the organized crime group, which calls itself Guerreros Unidos, is to this part of Mexico. In all, authorities have found 13 graves in three sites around the town of Iguala in southern Mexico. It was there on September 26 that the students from a poor rural teaching school came to ask for donations and commandeered several buses. A confrontation with local police ensued and six people were left dead. 43 surviving students were then forced into police vans and whisked away. They haven't been seen since. Authorities initially arrested 22 Iguala police officers who confessed to turning the students over to the Guerreros Unidos gang.

Yesterday investigators said they arrested 14 more police officers, this time from the town of Cocula, which borders Iguala.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

TOMAS ZERON: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: Tomas Zeron, head of the attorney general's criminal investigations unit, says these officers also confessed to handing the students over to the drug traffickers. Authorities have not said why the officers abducted the students or what the drug gang wanted with them. They have said they're searching for the mayor of Iguala and his wife, who have known ties to the drug cartel and fled the city shortly after the students were abducted. The slow progress of the investigation has enraged protesters, who earlier this week took over the government offices in the state capital, Chilpancingo and set fire to several buildings. And pressure on the governor of the state of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre Rivero, to resign has also heated up.

Speaking on MVS radio, Aguirre says he has no plans to step down.

(SOUNDBITE OF MVS RADIO)

GOVERNOR ANGEL AGUIRRE RIVERO: (Spanish spoken).

KAHN: It's not that I'm digging my heels in here, says Aguirre, we need to let the investigation proceed and get to the bottom of these horrible acts. But many questions linger about how much the governor knew about the work of the drug gang operating in Iguala and its connection with local politicians, all of whom are from governor's same political party - the left-leaning Democratic Revolutionary Party, the PRD.

Aguirre says he told federal officials about his suspicions of the mayor. Mexico's attorney general says he was unaware there were problems brewing in Iguala and beyond.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.