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Unmarked graves add to mystery of missing students

A group of civilian community police look at an excavated grave at a site near Iguala, Mexico, on Oct. 23, 2014. The grave is among a cluster at a site called Lomo del Zapatero.
A group of civilian community police look at an excavated grave at a site near Iguala, Mexico, on Oct. 23, 2014. The grave is among a cluster at a site called Lomo del Zapatero. McClatchy

Since 43 college students disappeared in police custody Sept. 26, Mexico’s Attorney General’s office has been searching for mass graves near the city of Iguala in Guerrero state. So far, investigators have reported finding two sets of graves, neither of which held the remains of the missing students.

The first site was in mountainous terrain west of Iguala near a hamlet called Pueblo Viejo. Agents say they found seven graves there, from which they’ve recovered 30 bodies.

At a second site, near the settlement of Rancho La Sierpe, agents reported finding more graves containing eight bodies.

The Attorney General’s Office says preliminary DNA testing showed that none of those bodies belonged to the missing students. It has not said if the bodies have been identified.

In a separate nongovernmental effort, self-appointed community police activists from elsewhere in Guerrero state have launched their own search for clandestine graves.

They report finding what appeared to be 26 individual graves at four rural sites. According to spokesman Napoleon Hernandez, the sites are not far from Pueblo Viejo, at Loma del Zapatero, Barranca del Tigre, Monte Oret and Tranchete.

Loose bones and skeletons have been found in some of the graves, but they appear to be from people who died months, or years, ago, not those of the missing students, Hernandez said.

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