MEXICO CITY (AP) — Four U.S. citizens have been kidnapped after gunmen opened fire on their vehicle in the northern Mexico border city of Matamoros, the FBI said.
The four had entered Matamoros, across from Brownsville, Texas, on Friday and were traveling in a white minivan with North Carolina license plates.
The FBI San Antonio Division office said in a statement Sunday that the vehicle came under fire shortly after it entered Mexico.
“All four Americans were placed in a vehicle and taken from the scene by armed men,” the office said. The FBI is offering a $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and the arrest of the culprits.
Matamoros is home to warring factions of the Gulf drug cartel and shootouts there on Friday were so bad that the U.S. Consulate issued an alert about the danger and local authorities warned people to shelter in place. It was not immediately clear how the abductions could have been connected to the violence later that day.
Tamaulipas state police said people had been killed and injured Friday, but did not say how many. The state police said that neither police nor the military was involved in Friday’s shootouts.
“There have been two armed incidents between unidentified civilians,” the state police said Friday on social media. “The exact number of the fallen is being corroborated.”
Victims of violence in Matamoros and other large border cities of Tamaulipas often go uncounted because the cartels have a history of taking the bodies of their own dead with them. Local media often avoid reporting such incidents out of safety concerns, creating an information vacuum.
Videos posted to social media Friday showed armed men loading two bodies into a truck in broad daylight.