Gunmen 'kidnap 80 migrants on train'

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The Independent US

Masked gunmen stormed a train in south-eastern Mexico and kidnapped at least 80 Central American migrants presumably bound for the United States, a priest has said.

The Rev Alejandro Solalinde said migrants who escaped the attack told him that armed men in ski masks and civilian clothes intercepted the train as it headed north through Veracruz state on Friday. The gunmen then reportedly forced migrants into at least three vehicles.

Mr Solalinde, who runs a migrant shelter in nearby Oaxaca state, said he suspects that the Zetas drug cartel was involved because it operates in the area.

The government's National Immigration Institute said that agents with Grupo Beta, a government-sponsored organisation that aids migrants, had gone to the area to look for witnesses.

Thousands of Central American migrants enter Mexican territory without permission each year, many bound for the US.

A report released in February by Mexico's National Human Rights Commission said that at least 11,333 migrants were abducted between April and September 2010. The cartels allegedly try to extort money from the immigrants or force them to work as drug runners.

In one of the worst attacks, 72 migrants were killed in the state of Tamaulipas in August 2010.