A university in Mexico has suspended classes after a spate of kidnapping attempts by armed gangs believed to be targeting female students.
At least six incidents are reported to have taken place on different campuses and schools of the Autonomous University of Guerrero in Acapulco over the past few weeks.
The university’s rector, Javier Saldaña Almazán, told the newspaper Milenio that the most recent attempted abduction by armed individuals had taken place on 19 October. A female medical student was physically attacked, he said, “but fortunately the car they were travelling in broke down and she was able to get away. [However] she came back badly beaten.”
While violence is endemic in the state of Guerrero, seemingly anonymous, targeted attacks of this nature are unusual. “It is very strange,” Professor Saldaña told journalists. “I do not know what message they want to send or what is happening.” The university has sought support from state police and the military to help secure the campus, he added.
Some 12,000 students are affected by the closure, which is expected to last until enhanced security measures are in place.
Tensions have been heightened in the region since the disappearance of 43 male students from a teaching college in Iguala, Guerrero, in 2014. They were returning from a protest against discriminatory hiring practices for teachers when they were confronted by armed police.
Details of what happened remain unclear, but a government investigation later concluded that the 43 students had been taken into police custody before being handed over to a crime syndicate. More than 100 people have since been arrested in connection with the case.
Responding to the recent Acapulco attacks, a state attorney general confirmed that none of the attempted kidnappings had been successful and pledged to increase the police presence.
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