Photograph by Adriana Zehbrauskas for The New York Times. Parents of the missing students meeting at the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa that their children attended.
MEXICO CITY — Municipal police officers encircled the bus, detonated tear gas, punctured the tires and forced the college students who were onboard to get off.
“We’re going to kill all of you,” the officers warned, according to the bus driver. A policeman approached the driver and pointed a pistol at his head. “You, too,” the officer said.
With a military intelligence official looking on, witnesses said, the students were put into police vehicles and taken away. They have not been seen since.
Kirk Semple of the New York Times reported that they were among the 43 students who vanished in the city of Iguala one night in September 2014 amid violent, chaotic circumstances laid bare by an international panel of investigators who have been examining the matter for more than a year. The reason for the students’ abduction remains a mystery.
Despite apparent stonewalling by the Mexican government in recent months, the panel’s two reports on the case, the most recent of which was released on Sunday, provide the fullest accounting of the events surrounding the students’ disappearance, which also left six other people dead, including three students, and scores wounded.
The reports describe a night of confusion and terror for the students and city residents, and a seemingly clinical, coordinated harvest by Mexican law enforcement officials and other gunmen operating in and around Iguala, in the State of Guerrero, one of Mexico’s poorest and most violent states.
About 123 people, including 73 municipal police officials, have been detained on organized-crime charges in relation to the night’s events, and the Mexican authorities have linked the Iguala police force to a powerful drug gang. Still, a year and a half later, a clear motive for the mayhem remains elusive.