Protesters in Mexico torch ruling party headquarters over missing students, hold state official hostage

Teachers protesting Tuesday in solidarity with 43 education students abducted – and apparently slain – in late September attacked the Guerrero state office of Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, sparking a clash with police.

According to El Universal, they also held hostage the state's Security Assistant Secretary José Juan Gatica for two hours in the afternoon, hoping to exchange him for two teachers who are under police custody.

The protesters, who are mostly teachers with the union Coordinadora Estatal de Trabajadores de la Educación de Guerrero (CETEG), arrived at the PRI headquarters in Chilpancingo, Guerrero's capital, shortly before 11:00 a.m. and force their way into the building.

News agency EFE reported that the attackers, most of them hooded and armed with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, vandalized the offices and set fires before riot police intervened.

CETEG activists camped out for weeks in Chilpancingo's main square have mounted both peaceful and violent demonstrations over the case of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa Rural Normal School, a teacher-training institution near the town of Iguala, Guerrero.

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News accounts said Tuesday's confrontation left several people hurt and ambulances were spotted at the scene, but authorities offered no information on the number of injured or the seriousness of their injuries.

The PRI's state chairman in Guerrero, Cuauthemoc Salgado, told Milenio Television that the attackers numbered between 400 and 500.

The roughly 60 percent working inside the office at the time of the assault were able to leave the building, he said.

The 43 Ayotzinapa students were detained by police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug cartel, which killed them and burned the bodies to eliminate all traces of the victims, Mexican authorities say, citing statements by suspects in the case.

Based on reporting by EFE.

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