Search for four Americans kidnapped at gunpoint after crossing into Mexico to buy medicine
Four US citizens were shot at and kidnapped by gunmen after they crossed the Mexico border to buy medicine as a search is under way to find them, say authorities.
The FBI said the unidentified Americans had entered the northern city of Matamoros from Texas on Friday and were taken after armed men opened fire on their minivan.
Mexico’s president said the four had gone to purchase medicine and ended up caught in the crossfire between two groups of gunmen.
Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador told reporters: “These are people from the United States, and the information we have is that they crossed the border to buy medicine in Mexico and there was a confrontation between groups and they were detained.”
“It’s already being taken care of. I believe it is going to be resolved. I expect so, I hope so,” he went on.
US President Joe Biden is aware of the “unacceptable” kidnappings, said the White House, which added it is “ready to provide all appropriate consular assistance, and US law enforcement is in touch with Mexican law enforcement”.
The FBI San Antonio Division office said all four Americans were “placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men”.
Matamoros is just located south of Brownsville, Texas.
US ambassador to Mexico Ken Salazar said the Americans were kidnapped at gunpoint and that an “innocent” Mexican was killed.
FBI offers $50,000 reward
Mexican and US authorities said on Monday they were working to locate the four Americans and the FBI is offering a $50,000 (£41,000) reward for the safe return of the victims and the arrest of the culprits.
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The four were in a white minivan with North Carolina number plates when they entered Matamoros, the US embassy to Mexico said.
The armed men allegedly fired on the passengers shortly after their vehicle crossed the border and then herded them into another vehicle before fleeing the scene, it added.
A video posted on social media on Friday showed armed men, some wearing body armour, putting four people into the back of a truck in broad daylight. One was alive and sitting up, but the others appeared to be either dead or injured.
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Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel and shootouts there on Friday were so severe that the US consulate issued an alert about the danger and local authorities warned people to take shelter.
The US state department has a “do not travel” warning for Tamaulipas state, where Matamoros is located, due to “crime and kidnapping”.
As a border city, US citizens who live in Brownsville or elsewhere in Texas frequently cross to visit family, attend medical appointments or shop and it is also used as a crossing point for people travelling deeper into Mexico.