1 Sep 2008

Massive anti-crime rallies in Mexico

5:20 pm on 1 September 2008

Hundreds of thousands of people have marched throughout Mexico to protest the continuing wave of kidnappings and gruesome murders in the country.

The rallies were held in all of Mexico's 32 states, with more than 150,000 people gathering at Zocalo square in the capital, Mexico City. They were mainly dressed in white, and marched in silence, holding candles.

The demonstrators held pictures of kidnap victims and carried signs that read "Enough Is Enough".

Many protesters blame the government for what they say is its inability to combat crime.

This is despite a series of tough measures unveiled in recent years by President Felipe Calderon, including the deployment of more than 25,000 police and troops around the country to wrest Mexico from drug cartels.

Mexico is one of the worst countries in the world for abductions. Kidnapping jumped almost 40% between 2004 and 2007, according to official statistics.

Police say there were 751 kidnappings in Mexico last year but an independent crime research institute says the real number could be above 7,000.

Sisters' heads found

The severed heads of two sisters have been discovered on a path in the northern state of Durango - making a total of 18 decapitations in Mexico since Thursday.

The heads were on a path about 500 metres from the prosecutor's office. The bodies were discovered several hours later in another part of the state capital.

There have been 115 murders in Durango since January, according to a recent tally by El Universal daily.

The Reforma daily says there have been 167 murders this week, including 24 police officers and 21 decapitations, including the two sisters.