The 14 masked individuals who occupied the office of the president of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, or UNAM, for 12 days to protest the expulsion of five students and demand changes at the institution abandoned the building on Wednesday.

The demonstrators, who never identified themselves, accepted an offer Tuesday night from UNAM officials to have talks on May 9.

The masked protesters read a statement just after 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, justifying their actions and saying their goal was to defend access to a free public university education.

The president's office was occupied more to protest reforms implemented at the School of Sciences and Humanities than to demand reinstatement of expelled students, the protesters said.

The five students were expelled on Feb. 5 from the School of Sciences and Humanities for vandalism at its campus in Naucalpan, a Mexico City suburb.

The masked protesters pulled down the posters they had put up at the UNAM's landmark building and hauled away the blankets, books and papers they used during the occupation.

Some students had called on the protesters in recent days to end the occupation.

The UNAM is Mexico's largest university and one of Latin America's leading higher education institutions. EFE