Gunmen wearing ski masks reportedly stormed a train in southeastern Mexico and kidnapped 80 Central American migrants headed north.
Rev. Alejandro Solalinde, a priest who runs a migrant shelter called Brothers Along the Road, told the Associated Press Monday that the gunmen stopped the train as it headed north through Veracruz state Friday. The migrants were presumed to be going to the United States.
The gunmen allegedly forced the migrants to get off the cars and loaded them into three sport utility vehicles, according to Solalinde, who received his information from migrants who escaped the attack.
"Get off you sons of whores, get off fast and get in the trucks," the gunmen said to the migrants, an eyewitness told Fox News.
He said there were about 250 migrants on the train, mostly from Honduras and Guatemala.
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Solalinde told AFP that the train left Ixtepec in Oaxaca for Veracrus and was stopped by gunmen after about four hours.
"Before arriving at the Medias Aguas station in Veracruz, the driver stopped the train when the tracks were blocked by three trucks with armed men" who seized the migrants, he told AFP.
"The armed men stepped out of the trucks and after threatening the migrants with firearms, they forced the migrants off the train."
The Mexican government has blamed the Los Zetas drug gang for kidnapping migrants in the past. More than 70 Central and South American migrants were kidnapped en route to the United States in August 2010.
The National Human Rights Commission estimates that at least 11,333 migrants, mostly from Central America, were kidnapped in Mexico between April and September 2010, Fox News reports.
Organized crime groups kidnap the migrants to extort money from them or force them to join their gangs, it states.