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Hundreds of Central American migrants cross into Mexico from Guatemala

Central American migrants cross the Suchiate River on January 23 (AFP Photo/ALFREDO ESTRELLA )

Ciudad Hidalgo (Mexico) (AFP) - Hundreds of Central American migrants surged into Mexico Thursday, wading unopposed across a river on the Guatemalan border where Mexican troops had used tear gas the day before to keep them back, AFP journalists at the scene reported.

Once on the other side of the Suchiate river, the migrants quickly formed a column and began a trek on foot to Ciudad Hidalgo, in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

Thousands of Central Americans have crossed Mexico toward the United States in caravans in recent years, fleeing chronic poverty and brutal gang violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

On Monday, Mexican National Guard troops fired tear gas to force back migrants attempting to cross, leading to scenes of chaos as huge crowds of people flailed across the Suchiate River.

About 500 were able to enter the country illegally, though more than 400 of them were later arrested.