Authorities released 10 students from custody yesterday in exchange for four police officers who were being held hostage after a clash near the Ayotzinapa teacher training college in Guerrero.
The confrontation came 13 days before the third anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos college.
It was early yesterday when the second-year students left the school with the intention of hijacking tanker trucks to steal fuel. Returning later with a truck carrying 30,000 liters of diesel, three delivery trucks and a bus, all of them stolen, state and federal police gave chase.
In order to hinder the advance of authorities the students blocked the road with the bus, hijacking a second at the same time. Police caught up with the second bus in an area known as The Tunnels in the municipality of Tixtla.
The students allege that police opened fire on the bus, puncturing the tires and forcing it to stop. The spokesman for the Guerrero Coordination Group, Roberto Álvarez Heredia, denied the accusation.
Police arrested the 10 students who were aboard, all of whom were from Ayotzinapa, and transported them to the headquarters of the state Attorney General’s office (FGE).
But when the other students reached the school with their stolen vehicles and learned of the arrest of their classmates, a group left for Tixtla and apprehended four municipal police officers and a patrol car.
About 1:00pm, students reached an agreement with a state official and the 10 arrested students were released and charges of putting the population at risk and impeding free transit dropped in exchange for the four police officers and their patrol car.
The exchange was overseen by the president of the Human Rights Commission of the state of Guerrero (CDHG).
State investigators and human rights officials later found spent cartridges at the scene of the confrontation.
The parents of the 43 students who have been missing since September 26, 2014 issued a prepared statement condemning the “cunning aggression against our youths.” They also demanded a stop to the “repression and criminalization” of the students.
Meanwhile, the stolen trucks remain in the possession of students on the grounds of the Raúl Isidro Burgos college.