Officials say two Honduran migrant youths killed in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The bodies of two slain Honduran migrant youths were found in the Mexican border city of Tijuana at the weekend, officials said on Tuesday, in a sign of the dangers facing Central Americans in Mexico as they seek to enter the United States.

The prosecutors’ office in Tijuana said in a statement it was investigating the deaths of the two youths, who showed signs of having been stabbed and strangled. The victims were believed to be about 16 or 17 years old, the office said.

The victims, who were staying at a shelter for migrant youths in Tijuana, were headed to another shelter when they were intercepted by people who apparently intended to rob them, it said. A third boy survived.

The incident did not appear to be related to organized crime, said Jorge Alvarez Mendoza, a prosecutor in Tijuana.

Thousands of Central American migrants have reached Tijuana in recent months hoping to gain entry to the United States. Many have been waiting in Mexico while they seek asylum under a system known as “metering,” which limits how many can apply each day.

It could not be determined immediately if the victims planned to apply for asylum.

Mexico and the United States have been discussing the possibility of returning Central American migrants to Mexico from the United States while their asylum claims are processed.

The proposal has been widely criticized by rights groups who say keeping asylum seekers in Mexico’s border towns puts them in danger. No new advances have emerged since it was reported in the media.

Alden Rivera, the Honduran ambassador to Mexico, said the teens were from Honduras and that the attack on them took place on Saturday afternoon.

“At the moment, all we can say is that the three boys were taken to a place,” Rivera told Reuters. “Two of them were brutally murdered and one of them is a survivor of the incident, who is being protected by Mexican authorities.”

He said he did not know why the Honduran government was not notified until Monday and said Honduras had urged Mexican officials to deepen their investigation into the crime.

“The conditions in which the murder of the two youths occurred are really terrible,” Rivera said. “We are truly dismayed by everything that has happened.”

Mexico’s foreign ministry did not respond immediately to a request for comment. A spokesman for the foreign minister said earlier on Tuesday before the news was published that Mexico couldn’t control how many migrants the U.S. let in.

“Obviously it has us very worried ... we have been looking for solutions,” he said.

The crime highlights the precarious position of migrants, particularly minors, in Tijuana, said Vicente Sanchez, a professor of public administration at the Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, although he also said he did not expect such incidents to become commonplace.

“In a violent environment, young people are the most vulnerable,” he said.

Reporting by Christine Murray and Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Tait