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Dressed in riot gear, Mexico’s security forces crack down on hundreds of migrants

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FRONTERA HIDALGO, Mexico — Hundreds of Central American migrants were hauled onto buses by Mexican national guardsmen and immigration agents after crossing into the country early Thursday and walking for hours along a rural highway.

The migrants had stopped for the day at a shaded crossroads when hundreds of national guard troops advanced their lines to within 100 yards (meters) of the migrants. A brief negotiation stalled, the migrants knelt to the ground in prayer and began to chant “we want to pass.”

National guardsmen in riot gear advanced banging their plastic shields with batons and engaged the migrants. There was shoving and pepper spray as migrants were rounded up.

Many of the people allowed themselves to be escorted to the buses without resistance. Women cradling small children or holding kids’ hands wept as they walked toward the buses.

Others resisted and were subdued by guardsmen. One man dragged by four guardsmen shouted “they killed my brother, I don’t want to die,” presumably in reference to the possibility of being returned to his country.

A woman crying as she walked toward a bus said, “I have a great need for my children.”

A paramedic attended to an injured woman lying on the highway shoulder.

The road was left littered with water bottles, plastic bags and clothing. An irate man in a blue shirt yelled at the agents “this is a war against the Hondurans,” gesturing angrily.

It was a sudden climax after the day had seemed to be winding down.

Carrying U.S. and Honduran flags at the head of the procession, the migrants had been walking on a highway toward hundreds of national guardsmen since crossing the Suchiate river from Guatemala at dawn.

Jose Luis Morales, a Salvadoran de facto spokesman for the caravan, said the migrants wanted to negotiate to be allowed to pass peacefully.

The migrants halted late in the morning on the roadside about 6 miles (10 kilometers) north of the river border city of Ciudad Hidalgo, and a few miles (kilometers) from where a large deployment of security forces was waiting.

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