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Burnt Remains Of Missing Mexican Student Identified; 42 Still Not Found


We have an update now on a devastating story in Mexico. It involves 43 students missing since September. A search for the students failed to turn them up at first, but did find the graves of other people apparently killed in drug-related violence. Now authorities have identified the remains of one of the 43 students. The remains were found in a small town near where officials say corrupt police officers working with a drug gang abducted and killed the students. From Mexico City, NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN, BYLINE: Mexico's Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam faced reporters yesterday and gave the news the country had been fearing and waiting to hear. According to experts in Innsbruck, Austria, where 17 burned bone fragments were sent, DNA matched one of the missing students, Alexander Mora Venancio.


JESUS MURILLO KARAM: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: It's a near-certain match, said a sullen-faced Karam. Odds that it's not Mora are less than a billion to one. That's billion with a B, emphasized the attorney general. DNA extracted from the bone was matched to both Mora's father and his two siblings. The 43 students, all from poor, rural farming families, were abducted by corrupt police officers on the orders of a local mayor who feared the students had come to his town to disrupt a political event. Officials say the cops then handed all 43 over to a drug gang who killed them and burned their bodies. News of the identification leaked out over the weekend, and at a protest Saturday in Mexico City, a spokesman for the relatives of the 43, Felipe de la Cruz, told demonstrators not to cry for Alexander.


FELIPE DE LA CRUZ: (Speaking Spanish).

KAHN: On the contrary, Cruz said, from his fall, a revolution will bloom and bring change to our Mexico. Authorities say 80 people have been arrested in the case, 44 of them municipal police officers and that more arrests are expected soon. Carrie Kahn, NPR News, Mexico City. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Kahn is NPR's International Correspondent based in Mexico City, Mexico. She covers Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. Kahn's reports can be heard on NPR's award-winning news programs including All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition, and on NPR.org.
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