26-year-old Honduran man who had been traveling to the U.S. border with a caravan of Central American asylum seekers died on Sunday after the group clashed with Guatemalan and Mexican police on a border bridge between the two countries.
The group of predominantly Honduran migrants had been trying to pass through Guatemalan border town Tecun Uman to Ciudad Hidalgo in Mexico, but they were blocked by authorities, who locked metal gates separating the two countries, the Associated Press reported.
Migrants broke through the barriers, however, leading to a clash with police that reportedly left dozens of people injured.
The 26-year-old man died of a head wound after being shot with a rubber bullet, according to AP. His identity has not yet been revealed.
It is unclear who fired the fatal shot, but shortly after the incident, Mexican Interior Secretary Alfonso Navarrete denied that his country’s forces were responsible for the man’s death.
He said that while police had been attacked with “stones, firecrackers” and “glass bottles” and claimed that some traveling with the caravan had also been carrying firearms and gasoline bombs during the standoff, Mexican officers had not been carrying any guns or revolvers that would have fired rubber bullets.
“Mexico does not criminalize undocumented immigration,” he added.
The migrants involved in the clash appear to be part of a smaller caravan following the journey of a larger group that began traveling earlier this month and is already winding its way through Mexico toward the U.S. border, where migrants plan to seek asylum.
Mexico has offered that group asylum if they agree to remain in the southern states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Many in the group, which has now dwindled from around 7,500 people to roughly 4,000, have declined the offer, determined to make it to the U.S. border despite the Trump administration’s repeated demands that they turn back.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly warned Mexican authorities to stop the caravan from reaching the U.S. border and has also vowed to cut or significantly reduce U.S. aid to Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador for failing to stop their citizens from making the journey to the U.S.
Despite the president’s threats, a third caravan of Salvadorans launched a fresh journey toward American soil on Sunday, determined to join those seeking asylum in the U.S., according to AP.
The first caravan, which began its journey in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on Saturday, October 13 and had made it to Tapanatepec in Oaxaca, Mexico on Sunday, still has roughly 1,000 miles to go before it will reach the nearest U.S. border crossing in McAllen, Texas.
However, that journey could more than double if the migrants decide to head toward the Tijuana-San Diego border instead, as another caravan did earlier this year in April.
Only around 200 members of the April caravan, which had swelled at one point to include as many as 1,500, made it to the U.S. border to seek asylum.