Two of the four Americans kidnapped in Mexico last week were killed and two were returned to the U.S., the State Department confirmed on Tuesday.
“Two U.S. citizens were returned to the United States, the bodies of two other U.S. citizens killed in the same incident were also recovered,” department spokesperson Ned Price said during a news conference.
The two survivors — one of whom suffered serious injuries — were taken to Brownsville, Texas, and were being treated at a local hospital there as of Tuesday evening, according to the FBI.
The four U.S. citizens, who have not been publicly identified, were kidnapped at gunpoint on Friday in Matamoros, in the state Tamaulipas, shortly after crossing the border into Mexico, officials said. A Mexican woman was also killed in the episode. The four Americans were later found in Ejido Longoreño, a rural area east of Matamoros, The Associated Press reported, after getting caught amid fighting between rival cartel groups last week.
“We’re providing all appropriate assistance to [the victims] and their families,” Price said on Tuesday. “We extend our deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of the deceased. We thank our Mexican and U.S. law enforcement partners for their efforts to find these innocent victims, and the task forward is to ensure that justice is done.”
Both the FBI and the Justice Department are investigating the episode, and authorities “will be relentless in pursuing justice” on behalf of the victims, Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement on Tuesday. “We will do everything in our power to identify, find, and hold accountable the individuals responsible for this attack on American citizens.”
The FBI said that the investigation into the kidnapping was ongoing, and that the agency was working with the State Department to recover the bodies of the two victims who were killed.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also addressed the kidnapping on Tuesday.
“Since day one of this administration, we have been focused on disrupting transnational criminal organizations, including Mexican drug cartels and human smugglers,” Jean-Pierre said at the daily press briefing, adding the Biden administration had “imposed powerful new sanctions against cartel organizations in recent weeks.”
She declined to provide names of those abducted. “For the sake of privacy and out of respect to the families, we are going to refrain from further comment about those circumstances at this time,” she said.
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