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Hundreds of Honduran migrants cross river into Mexico

© AFP | Migrants face Mexican police officers after swimming across the Suchiate River from Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, to Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico, as a security fence on the international bridge was reinforced to prevent them from passing through

TECUN UMAN (GUATEMALA) (AFP) - 

Hundreds of Hondurans crossed a river into Mexico in a fresh wave of migrants heading to the United States on Monday as the United States said it would deploy 5,000 troops on its border with Mexico.

Men, women and children crossed the Suchiate River from Guatemala into Mexico on rafts made from truck tires, or by forming human chains to avoid being swept away. Others swam across after Mexican authorities refused to open a border bridge.

More than a thousand Honduran migrants broke through a Guatemalan police cordon to reach the river the day before, attempting to join a larger caravan walking toward the US border.

"By the end of the week, we will deploy over 5,200 soldiers to the southwest border," Air Force General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, told reporters.

The deployment would represent a sharp increase from initial estimates last week, when US officials said about 800 active-duty troops would be sent to provide assistance.

A caravan that left two weeks ago has made its way into Mexico, where the group has swelled to 7,000 mostly Honduran migrants, according to a UN estimate.

The migrants are walking towards the US despite threats from President Donald Trump to employ the military to prevent them from entering.

Mexican television showed a migration officer telling Hondurans behind the metal gate that they needed to follow "legal procedures" to enter the country in a "calm and safe way."

© 2018 AFP