Mexico: Explosion during protest leaves police officers injured

MEXICO CITY – An explosion outside Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office on Thursday injured police officers as protesters clashed with riot police during a protest ahead of the anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students in 2014.

The injured were loaded into ambulances. Broken glass and blood stains could be seen on the site.

Members of a bomb squad cordoned off the area. An unexploded object that an explosives technician recovered appeared to be a small pipe bomb: a tube with two ends capped.

The Secretariat of Citizen Security of Mexico City reported that 11 police officers were injured by shrapnel and some suffered bruises. None is in danger of death and they are already receiving care in hospitals.

On September 26, 2014, police in the city of Iguala, in the southern state of Guerrero, kidnapped 43 students from a radical teachers’ college. They were allegedly handed over to a drug trafficking organization and were never seen again. Three victims were later identified based on burned bone fragments.

The protest was just one of a series of activities planned ahead of the eighth anniversary of the students’ disappearance, which falls on Monday. The protests, in which relatives of the disappeared students participate, are usually peaceful.

Thursday’s protest also began like this, with slogans and speeches. Most of the protesters boarded buses and left before a small group left behind clashed with police.

Some masked protesters threw stones and firecrackers at the officers. Others spray-painted the area around the building to demand the return of missing students.

The policemen huddled together, crouched under their plastic shields, and found themselves surrounded by smoke.

“I was at the entrance of my business when four bombs were heard like firecrackers, which was what they threw towards the prosecutor’s office, towards the windows,” said José Rivera Cruz, 19, who sells clothes next to the prosecutor’s office. “There was smoke and now they closed the metrobus station, and now most of the policemen were here running and moving for the patrols and ambulances to arrive.”

As more patrols arrived to support the injured police officers, the protesters withdrew from the scene, Rivera Cruz said.

Last month, the Undersecretary of the Interior, Alejandro Encinas, who heads a truth commission investigating the case, described it as a “state crime” and directly implicated the military, among other actors, such as the local and state police.

Former Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam, who oversaw the original investigation into the disappearance, was arrested last month on charges of torture, enforced disappearance and against the administration of justice. Last week, Mexico arrested retired General José Rodríguez Pérez, who had been in charge of the army base in Iguala when the kidnappings occurred.

Dozens of students arrived at the Attorney General’s Office aboard buses on Thursday morning. Police with helmets and riot shields formed several lines in front of the entrances to the building.

On Wednesday, activists defaced the Israeli embassy in Mexico City. The Mexican government has asked Israel to extradite Tomás Zerón, another key figure in the case of the missing students.

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Mexico: Explosion during protest leaves police officers injured