MEXICO (AP) – Clashes between federal police in Chilpancingo, the capital of the southern state of Guerrero in southern Mexico, and protesters left at least 21 injured and several vehicles burning on Sunday.
The demonstrators were mainly students and teachers from the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college where the 43 students who went missing in late September attended. They were mounting a concert to express solidarity with the missing students and their families.
A federal police official who requested anonymity told the Associated Press that officers were assaulted repeatedly by professors from CETEG, the Guerrero educational worker trade union, at dawn.
In total, the official said, eight policemen were injured, five of them run over by a van and three hurt when teachers tried to restrain them. One of the latter, has "severe brain damage" and had to be transferred to Mexico City. The officers who were struck by the van were also hospitalized.
For its part, Tlachinollan, the human rights organization that has been aiding the families of the 43 students, said in a statement that the clashes left at least 13 civilians wounded.
Among them students, teachers, two parents of the missing—one of whom was hospitalized—and two journalists, including a photographer for the Associated Press.
The unrest began at dawn on Sunday when students were preparing for a concert by placing metal barriers that blocked the exit of the hotel where police are being lodged.
According to the police official, protesters who attacked policemen guarding the hotel and held three officers who were "beaten savagely."
The students claim that five officers "with alcohol on their breath" pointed their weapons at the demonstrators and attacked them first.
The federal police official told the AP that toxicology exams showed no trace of alcohol in any of the injured officers.
The tensest moment occurred when a masked man arrived in a van and drove into the federal police lines. Then he put the van into reverse and also struck members of the press.
The governor of Guerrero, Rogelio Ortega Martínez, blamed the incident on the CETEG teachers who, he said, sought out the hotel in order to provoke the federal police.
Hours after the first clashes, masked men set fire to two vehicles from the Police Training Institute in a central street of Chilpancingo.
The Federal Police has asked the attorney general's office to investigate the events, and the National Human Rights Commission has also stated that it will look into them.