Shooting deaths at student protest rock Mexico

Chief of police and attorney general fired after violent demonstration cost two lives

The governor of Mexico's Guerrero state on Tuesday fired his chief of police and attorney general after a violent student protest cost the lives of two young people, who were allegedly shot by authorities.

Governor Ángel Aguirre Rivero took the action after human rights and student organizations said they were outraged over the shooting deaths of the two students by police in civilian clothes who had opened fired on the demonstrators.

Aguirre told a radio station that he fired both Alberto López and chief of the state police "to facilitate the investigation." The federal Attorney General's Office said it was opening an investigation into the students' deaths.

A group of students had allegedly hijacked buses and blocked a highway that leads to the Pacific coast resort of Acapulco to press their demands for more funding for education and guarantees that they would be given jobs once they graduated.

An official version

Before he was fired, López told reporters that the students had set fire to pumps at a gas station on the highway when federal and state police moved in to quell the protest, and that a gas station employee had suffered serious burns in the attack. Police were using tear gas to repel the demonstrators when shots rang out, he said, adding that authorities are still investigating who fired those shots.

But video footage and news photographs of the confrontation appear to show several policemen dressed in civilian clothes opening fire with AK-47 weapons. In one photo, published by the newspaper Reforma, a student is seen running toward an officer with a rock about the size of an orange. In a subsequent photo, he is shown lying dead in the street. Shell casings recovered at the scene were from an AK-47, and an investigation was underway to determine if they matched the bullets that killed the students.

The incident has evoked painful memories of the 1968 "Tlatelolco Massacre" when Mexican security forces gunned down more than 300 students as they held a peaceful protest in the capital's Plaza of the Three Cultures just 10 days before the Olympic Games started in the city.

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