Two Americans found dead on Tuesday, of the four abducted by gunmen on Friday in northeastern Mexico, on the border with the United States, are believed to be because of a "misunderstanding" by the kidnappers, Mexican authorities said. .
"The theory that this is a misunderstanding and not a deliberate assault is growing stronger," Irving Barrios, state attorney for Tamaulipas in northeastern Mexico, told a conference Press.
Although other hypotheses on the causes of the abduction are not excluded, the track of misunderstanding is considered "the most solid" and "certainly the most correct", he added.
The four Americans had crossed the border driving a white minivan registered in North Carolina before being targeted by gunfire and then kidnapped by armed men in the border town of Matamoros, the FBI said on Monday.
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Americo Villarreal, the governor of the state of Tamaulipas, one of the most dangerous in the country, announced that "of the four" American citizens kidnapped, "two died". Mexican authorities also said on Monday that a Mexican woman had lost her life in the exchange of gunfire.
Without specifying the circumstances of the discovery of the hostages, which took place in an area on the outskirts of Matamoros, according to an AFP correspondent, he then specified that among the two people found alive, a man was wounded by bullets in the one leg and one woman was unharmed. American media identified them as Latavia Washington McGee and Eric James Williams.
They were handed over to US authorities at one of the border bridges between Matamoros and the nearby town of Brownsville. A convoy of around 20 vehicles, including ambulances, was seen traveling from the prosecutor's office to the border between the two countries.
The bodies of the two deceased persons, whose identity has not been revealed, should be repatriated "in the next few hours", once the autopsy reports are concluded, Villarreal added.
No indication of a possible identification of the kidnappers was given. The FBI had offered a reward of $50,000 for any assistance contributing to the release of the hostages and the arrest of the suspects.
US authorities have indicated that they will "work closely with the Mexican government to ensure that justice is done", according to John Kirby, White House spokesman for national security issues. Attacks against American citizens are "unacceptable", he assured, conveying his "deepest condolences" to the relatives of the two people killed.
According to Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the victims traveled to Mexico to buy medicine.
“We are sorry that this is happening in our country and we send our condolences to the families of the victims, to their friends, to the people of the United States, to the government of the United States,” he said after the confirmation of the death.
"We work every day to guarantee peace, tranquility, and we will continue to work again" like this, added Mr. Lopez Obrador. On Monday, he had received the United States Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar, to discuss the current case.
The latter recalled in a press release that these kidnappings "are a tragic reminder" of the need for the two countries to "strengthen their fight against criminal organizations" on the border.
Matamoros is plagued by violence linked to drug trafficking and organized crime, and the roads in the Tamaulipas region are considered the most dangerous in Mexico due to the risk of kidnapping and extortion by criminal groups.
The US State Department advises against travel to the region. "Criminal groups target public and private buses, as well as private cars traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransoms," according to a travel advisory.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price reminded US citizens on Monday that the advisory for Tamaulipas remains in effect. "Don't go there. We encourage Americans to follow this advice," he said.
Thousands of people have disappeared and some 350,000 homicides have taken place in Mexico since the deployment in 2006 of a major counter-narcotics offensive supported by the United States.
03/08/2023 03:43:27 - Matamoros (Mexique) (AFP) - © 2023 AFP