Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of Mexico City and other areas of the country in an outpouring of anger over the government's handling of the disappearance of 43 students.

The authorities claim that the students were murdered by a notorious drugs gang in the town of Iguala in September but reports have emerged that the students were handed to the gang by local police.

Bodies were discovered in mass graves near the town and forensic tests are now being carried out by Argentine scientists in the case.

"Mexicans are ready to explode," Homero Aridjis, a prominent Mexican poet and social activist, said. "Corruption has touched bottom, people are poor, suffering violence. They are fed up and desperate."

The protests were largely peaceful but there were a number of clashes between demonstrators and authorities when masked protesters threw Molotov cocktails and shot firework towards police. No one was injured in the clashes however.

Many shops and businesses were closed for the day because of the mass protests as demonstrators called for a national strike.

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto accused the protesters of attempting to "destabilise" the state.

Over 100,000 people have been killed and 27,000 have gone missing in Mexico in the past decade.