Mexican security and migration officials have blocked the passage of a new migrant caravan, detaining several people, as the government moved to break up the group just a day after it set off from southern Mexico for the United States.
At 5am on Sunday, members of Mexico's National Guard and the National Institute of Migration (INM) began surrounding the migrants on the edge of the southern town of Huixtla, prompting some of them to flee, a Reuters witness said.
In the ensuing commotion, some parents in the caravan made up largely of Central Americans, Haitians and some Venezuelans were separated from their children as the officials sought to intercept migrants who ran for the banks of the River Huixtla.
The operation to stop the caravan of about 400 people comes a few days after officials dispersed another large group and followed comments by President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador that he wanted undocumented migrants to stay in southern Mexico.
Lopez Obrador also urged the US government to help the migrants find work, speaking ahead of a high-level meeting of US and Mexican officials on Thursday that is due to address economic matters and also expected to encompass migration.
As had occurred with the previous caravan, some migrants accused Mexican security forces of using excessive force during their intervention, and Maria Martha Ramos, a Honduran woman, said some of the officials threw stones to detain people.
Ramos said she would see if the main body of migrants regrouped so she could continue her journey north.
The Mexican government recently condemned officials committing acts of violence that were captured on video against the previous group of migrants.
Local migrant advocates expressed dismay at the tactics used against the new caravan.
Heyman Vazquez, a priest in Huixtla and advocate for migrants, described the early morning swoop on the caravan, which included many children, as an "inhumane" and "cruel" abuse of power that had spread fear and alarm among the travellers.