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Mexican military rescues 52 hostages in border city

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Authorities say they acted on a tip
  • The hostages were from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua
  • The operation follows two other recent rescues in the same city

Mexico City (CNN) -- Members of the Mexican military have rescued 52 migrant hostages who were being held against their will at a house in northeastern Mexico, defense officials said.

The operation, which happened on Thursday, is the third such recent rescue in Reynosa, a city across the border from McAllen, Texas.

On Monday, federal police rescued 51 migrant hostages while 68 were rescued earlier this month.

Reynosa is about 90 miles north of the town of San Fernando, where authorities recently uncovered 177 bodies from mass graves. Many of the bodies are believed to be those of bus passengers who were kidnapped. San Fernando is also where the bodies of 72 migrants were found last year.

Among those rescued on Thursday were 12 Guatemalans, five Salvadorans, 34 Hondurans and one Nicaraguan, defense officials said, adding that they acted on a tip.

The state of Tamaulipas, where Reynosa and San Fernando are located, is the site of a bloody battle between rival drug cartels. The Gulf cartel and the Zetas cartel used to work together, but split more than a year ago and are now fighting for control of lucrative smuggling routes into the United States.

Nationwide, the Mexican government says there have been some 35,000 drug-related deaths since President Felipe Calderon began a crackdown on the cartels in December 2006.

CNN's Dana Ford contributed to this report.