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Mexican missing students' families to mark anniversary with hunger strike

Xinhua, September 23, 2015 Adjust font size:

Family members of 43 missing students who went missing last year announced an upcoming hunger strike to mark the first anniversary of their disappearance after riot police and protesting students clashed on a highway in southwestern Mexico Tuesday.

The clash came about after students from the Ayotzinapa Teacher Training College Raul Isidro Burgos "commandeered" 12 buses, accompanied by family members and friends of the missing 43, who were also students at the college.

The students were using the buses to head for Chilpancingo, capital of the southwestern state of Guerrero. They also planned to go to Mexico City afterwards for a meeting with Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Riot police cut the group off on the Tixtla Freeway. A confrontation occurred, injuring parties on both sides, according to local media.

Members of the riot police, including two women, were taken hostage by the students for approximately one hour, according to local daily El Diario. The students also set fire to a trailer after the police blocked the road, said local daily La Jornada.

This was not the students' first protest this week. On Monday almost 200 students from the college, with covered heads and no police interference, attacked Guerrero's District Attorney's Office. They damaged furniture, office equipment and official vans.

After Tuesday's highway confrontation, the students were forced to return to their school. The spokesperson for the 43 students' families, Felipe de la Cruz, announced that the family members would begin a 43-hour hunger strike starting Wednesday in Mexico City's historic center.

"It is important that the doors are opened so that they can be heard," Cruz said during an interview with local media regarding the meeting with President Pena Nieto on Thursday from 13:00 local time (1800 GMT). Cruz, students from the teacher's college, the missing 43 students' parents and lawyer Vidulfo Rosales will attend the meeting.

"The meeting will not change the activities planned for September 26," Cruz said. The date marks the one-year anniversary since the 43 students disappeared.

Mexico City's Government Secretary Patricia Mercado said Tuesday that only the 43 students' family members would be allowed to protest in the city's main square in the coming days.

Mercado told local media the family members had agreed to protest in a peaceful manner, however, the government would take action if there was any violence.

The hunger strike will begin on Wednesday and end on Friday afternoon.

On the evenings of Sept. 26 and 27, 2014, the students from the teacher's college were attacked by police in Iguala, Guerrero. Six died, including three students. Afterwards, 43 students were kidnapped and allegedly murdered. Endi