There were four US citizens kidnapped in a brazen attack by several gunmen in the city of Matamoras in northern Mexico, the FBI said.

US officials confirmed on Monday that a Mexican national was killed in the incident.

On Friday, the Americans left for Matamoras, Tamaulipas, across from Brownsville, Texas, in a white minivan with North Carolina plates.

The FBI’s San Antonio office said in a statement Sunday that the vehicle was fired upon shortly after it entered Mexico.

“All four Americans were put in a car and taken away from the scene by armed men,” the office said.

The FBI is now offering a $50,000 reward for the return of the victims and the arrest of the perpetrators.

Here’s what we know about the case now.

As evidenced by footage and photos from the scene

Video posted on Twitter Friday appears to mark the moment the Americans were abducted, CBS News correspondent Christina Ruffini reports.

In the video, men armed with guns force one woman into the back of a white pickup truck. The men then dragged two people into the car.

The first woman goes and sits in the back of a truck; two other people appeared to be unresponsive, but their conditions were unknown. The video shows that some of them may be injured.

Photos from the scene seen by the AP show a white minivan with the driver’s side window open and the door open. A van is on the side of the road after colliding with a red SUV. The photos show people lying in the street next to a van surrounded by men with rifles.

The photos appear to match a video posted online taken from a different angle.

What US officials said about the incident

This was stated by the US Ambassador to Mexico, Ken Salazar statement Monday that the Americans were kidnapped at gunpoint and that an “innocent” Mexican national was killed in the attack. He offered no further details, but said various US law enforcement agencies were working with their Mexican counterparts to locate the missing US citizens.

President Biden has been briefed on the situation, White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said on Monday. She declined to answer other questions, citing privacy concerns.

What were the Americans doing in Matamoras

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Abrador said Monday that the Americans crossed the border to buy medicine and ended up caught in the crossfire between two armed groups.

The FBI said the van the victims were driving on Friday had North Carolina license plates, but authorities did not provide other details about who they were or where they were from.

The US State Department’s travel advisory for the state of Tamaulipas warns US citizens not to travel there. However, being a border city, US citizens who live in Brownsville or elsewhere in Texas often move to visit family, receive medical care, or shop. It is also a crossing point for people traveling to other parts of Mexico.

Over the years, an overnight stay in Matamoras has also been part of the “Two Nation Vacation” for spring break vacationers going to South Padre Island, Texas.

But increased cartel violence over the past 10 to 15 years has scared away much of that business.

What is behind the violence in Tamaulipas

Matamoras is home to warring cartel factions. On Friday The US Consulate has issued a warning about the shooting, and local authorities warned people to take shelter in place. The warning also reminded US citizens that this part of Mexico has a “Level 4: Do Not Travel”, the highest warning in the US State Department’s travel advisory system.

Since February 2020, the consulate in Matamoros has issued at least four security alerts warning of drug cartel violence, crime, kidnappings and clashes involving armed groups.

Three American siblings disappeared near Matamaros in October 2014 and were later found shot and burned. They had disappeared two weeks earlier while staying with their father in Mexico. Their parents said they were abducted by men dressed in police uniforms calling themselves “Hercules,” a tactical security unit in the violent border town.

Victims of the violence in Matamoras and other large border towns in Tamaulipas are often unaccounted for because the cartels have a history of making their victims’ bodies disappear. Local media often shy away from reporting such incidents for security reasons.

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