Mass kidnap of migrants reported in Mexico

OAXACA/SAN SALVADOR. December 22. KAZINFORM Armed men kidnapped about 50 Central American migrants in southern Mexico after holding up the cargo train they were riding on, El Salvador's foreign ministry said on Tuesday; Kazinform refers to China Daily.

A local priest who runs a shelter for migrants said witnesses reported that women and children were among those abducted on the night of December 16, and not seen since.

"Witnesses said that the subjects climbed up on the wagons, struck the migrants with machetes and took their belongings," El Salvador's foreign ministry said in a statement. "Afterwards they took away all the women traveling on the train."

In August, hitmen believed to be from the brutal Zetas drug gang kidnapped and killed 72 migrants at a ranch near the US border. The victims were blindfolded and bound before being lined up against a wall and gunned down, authorities said.

Priest Alejandro Solalinde, who runs the "Hermanos en el Camino" (Brothers on the Way) shelter in the town of Ixtepec in the southern state of Oaxaca, said he suspected the Zetas were behind the latest abduction as well.

Solalinde said 17 people who had also been traveling on the northbound train arrived at the hostel on December 17 and said the migrants were abducted in Chahuites, about 300 km (186 miles) from the border with Guatemala.

"Fourteen witnesses stayed in the shelter, and yesterday and the day before someone came to ask that they be handed over to the Zetas," he said. Authorities had since removed the witnesses to a safe location, he said; Kazinform cites China Daily.

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