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Five bodies found at Mexican campus

Five bodies have been found buried at the headquarters of a student group at a university in the western Mexican city of Guadalajara.

Jalisco state Attorney General Tomas Coronado said relatives had identified three of the dead as high school students who were reported missing with two other people last week after they complained that the student group was demanding protection money to sell snacks outside a campus.

Police uncovered three bodies in a pit late on Wednesday and two more in another pit late on Thursday.

Investigators are trying to determine if the latest two were a fried-dough vendor and his son who went missing with the three teenagers, Mr Coronado said.

The vendor, Armando Gomez, his son and three of his high school friends disappeared last Friday after going to the Federation of Guadalajara Students' headquarters, where the bodies were found. They went to complain that the student group was demanding too much protection money for allowing him to sell snacks outside a high school campus.

The bodies were found days after two college students in nearby Guerrero state were killed in a clash with police after student protesters hijacked buses, used them to block a highway and fought officers with rocks and sticks.

Highly organised, semi-formal and often violent groups are commonplace at Mexican universities. It is a phenomenon that dates back at least to the 1950s, but swelled during student radicalisation in the 1960s.

The organisations have become less ideological over the years and are now often linked to, or protected by, political bosses known as "caciques", or chieftains. The groups sometimes act as enforcers to strong-arm a politician's rivals, or freelance in extortion or petty robbery.

Political analyst John Ackerman said Mexico's current political atmosphere, with tension heating up before the July presidential election and a lame-duck central government distracted by the fight against drug cartels, may have emboldened such local groups.

"Cacique power is alive and well in Mexico," said Mr Ackerman, of the legal research institute at Mexico's National Autonomous University. "This is another aspect in which democracy is still incomplete in Mexico."

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