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19 migrants kidnapped from bus in Mexico: President

AFP  |  Mexico City 

Nineteen passengers who were kidnapped from a bus last week in northern were migrants, said Tuesday, as investigators worked through the murky details of the case.

The men were crossing the violent state of Tamaulipas, on the US-Mexican border, on Thursday when four vehicles blocked the road and forced their bus to stop, according to authorities.

Armed men then boarded the and kidnapped 19 passengers whose names they had on a list.

"I can confirm that they were migrants," said, referring to the abducted men, without specifying their nationalities.

The bus was travelling from the to Reynosa, a border city across from McAllen,

Although the told authorities that 19 passengers were kidnapped, investigation sources have indicated the real number of victims could be as high as 25.

The told a conference that one line of investigation is the possibility the men could have staged their own kidnapping as a way to drop off the radar and then enter the undetected.

"We are investigating to get to the bottom of this, because there's a theory that this could be a way to get into the United States, that they didn't actually disappear but rather crossed the border. There have already been two similar cases," he said.

Mexico's National Human Rights Commission, however, warned the men may have been genuinely kidnapped, and that their lives could be in danger. "They are in a situation of vulnerability on multiple fronts that places them at extraordinary risk," it said in a statement.

is a battleground between the Zetas and Gulf drug cartels. The kidnapping ocurred near the city of San Fernando, one of the most violent in the state. It is the same area where 72 migrants were kidnapped and murdered in 2010 by the Zetas.

Authorities say that in that case, the cartel tried to forcibly recruit the migrants, who were mostly from Central America, then killed them when they refused.

said his government was committed to stopping "horrific" incidents like the 2010 massacre.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, March 13 2019. 08:05 IST