Hundreds of students and teachers have smashed windows and started fires inside a state capital building in southern Mexico, as fury erupted over the disappearance of 43 young people believed to have been abducted by local police linked to a drug cartel.

The protesters called for the safe return of the students from a rural teachers’ college in Guerrero state, who have been missing since 26 September, even though fears have grown that 10 newly discovered mass graves could contain their bodies.

Associated Press photographs showed smoke billowing from the government building in Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero, and flames licking from office windows. Firefighters battled the blaze.

The government spokesman, José Villanueva Manzanarez, said the protesting members of a teachers’ union initially tried to get into the state congress in Chilpancingo but were repelled by anti-riot police. They then headed to the state government palace.

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