El Salvador: 3 migrants abducted in Mexico, 5 flee

By DIEGO A. MENDEZ, Associated Press Diego A. Mendez, Associated Press
Dec 27, 11:56 pm ET

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – Gunmen kidnapped nine migrants in a southern Mexican state where 50 disappeared last week, El Salvador's Foreign Ministry announced Monday.

Five of the migrants escaped and reported the kidnapping, the ministry said in a statement. Another was killed as he tried to flee and the other three remain missing.

The survivors said seven gunmen kidnapped the Central Americans on Dec. 21 from a train near the Ixtepec, a town in Oaxaca state, the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry said Mexican authorities are investigating and have the five witnesses in protective custody. Mexican police found the body of the slain migrant, identified as Salvadoran national Tomas Ferman Pineda, 41, and were arranging to repatriate his body.

The nationality of the other migrants was unclear.

Mexican authorities announced last week that they were investigating the possible Dec. 16 kidnapping of 50 illegal migrants in Oaxaca, after initially saying there was no evidence of the crime.

El Salvador's Foreign Ministry was also first to report that kidnapping. Witnesses say those migrants — 30 men, 15 women and five children — were held up by gunmen while trying to cross the country by train.

Honduran, Guatemalan and Salvadoran migrants have been interviewed by officials at Mexico's federal Attorney General's Office about the assault.

But Oaxaca state authorities said Monday that investigators have no leads despite scouring the train route in the region.

"We have nothing, there is no evidence of a kidnapping, and state and federal operations have not produced favorable results," said Oaxaca state Attorney General Manuel de Jesus Lopez Lopez.

Mexico is the transit route for thousands of illegal migrants seeking to reach the United States, with many falling victim to gangs and organized crime. The government's National Human Rights Commission reported in 2009 that nearly 10,000 migrants are kidnapped a year by gangs.

In the most horrifying case to date, 72 slain migrants were found in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas in August, a massacre blamed on members of the Zetas drug gang, which controls transport routes in that area for drugs and other contraband.


Associated Press Writer Sayra Cruz in Oaxaca, Mexico, contributed to this story.

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