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Mexico

Bodies of five kidnapped Mexican youth identified in mass grave

Officials in Mexico City say the bodies of at least five out 12 young people kidnapped from a bar in May have been identified from a mass grave. Thirteen bodies in total have been recovered.

The Mexican federal attorney general's office said while further tests on the remaining eight bodies would continue, there was enough evidence to confirm that five belonged to those who vanished three months ago.

Assistant Attorney General Renato Sales said the bodies had been pulled from a mass grave on a rural ranch 19 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Mexico City. The grave had been covered with concrete, lime and asbestos, and was discovered after agents received information about possible illegal weapons on the property.

In late May, in broad daylight, the young bar-goers disappeared from the 'Heaven' bar, just one block from the luxurious Paseo de Reforma. Surveillance cameras showed several cars pulling up to the bar at midday and taking away the victims, aged 16-34.

Prosecutors allege the abductions are linked to a dispute between street gangs that control local drug sales. Domestically, the case has marred the reputation of Mexico City, with many believing that it was an oasis from the country's raging drug violence.

Arrests made, relatives demand answers

Two of the bar's owners were arrested after the kidnapping, while a third, Dax Rodriguez Ledezma, was found dead and his body burned in what appeared to be a gangland-style murder.

Most of the victims hail from the Tepito neighborhood, known for its gangs, drug sales and sales of contraband items such as CDs and DVDs. The families of the missing insist they were not involved in drug trafficking.

Authorities have set up a perimeter of more than a mile (1.5 kilometers) around the site of the mass grave. Anxious relatives of the missing have gathered outside the Mexico City prosecutor's office ahead of a meeting where they will receive more information.

Following meetings with authorities shortly after the disappearance, relatives protested outside the attorney general's office (seen above).

jr/slk (AP, AFP)