Two students were killed Monday during a clash with state and federal police at a violent protest that blocked a major highway in the southern Mexico state of Guerrero.
The two bodies lay sprawled in pools of blood on the toll road linking Mexico City with the Pacific resort of Acapulco, which is in Guerrero state.
The Guerrero state prosecutors office said one of the students died of a bullet wound and the other was fatally hit in the head by a rock.
It said protesting students had hijacked buses and set fire to a gasoline station before federal police fired tear gas at the protesters and then shots rang out.
It said investigators were trying to determine who fired the shots.
The federal Interior Department issued a statement hours after the confrontation confirming the two deaths and saying it regretted them.
It said the government would investigate and bring to justice those responsible.
The Tlachinollan human rights group and other organizations condemned the killings in a statement, calling them ‘police brutality and an irrational use of force.’
It said about 300 students from the Ayotzinapa teachers college staged the protest seeking to persuade the state government ‘to meet their educational demands,’ but did not specify what those were.
The rights groups accused federal police, who are in charge of protecting national highways, of shooting at the demonstrators.
It said other protesters were chased, beaten and injured.
The state government issued a statement saying that it ‘has never impeded public demonstrations … and much less ever limited public expressions of protest.’
It said Gov. Angel Aguirre had ‘solved the majority” of the students demands in previous meetings and was ready to engage in dialogue with them.
Mexico’s public rural teachers colleges, some founded in the 1930s with a socialist philosophy, have long been a hot bed of radical activism.