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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 16 November 2018

Migrants, part of a caravan from Central America en route to the United States, waves the colors of the Honduras flag as they celebrate after crossing into Mexico from Guatemala through the Suchiate River in Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Adrees Latif TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

5,000 US troops deployed to border as Honduran migrants cross into Mexico

The US military will deploy more than 5,200 troops, including soldiers who will be armed, to bolster president Donald Trump’s efforts to secure the border with Mexico, a senior general said on Monday.

“I think the president has made it clear that border security is national security,” General Terrence O’Shaughnessy, head of the US military’s Northern Command, told a news conference in Washington.

The deployment came as hundreds of Hondurans crossed a river into Mexico in a fresh wave of migrants heading to the US, according to reporters on Guatemala’s border with Mexico.

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Men, women and children crossed the Suchiate River 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 1,000 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.

In recent weeks, Mr Trump has repeatedly said more troops are needed to tighten security at the border, and he has made political capital of the caravan ahead of important mid-term congressional elections that could see the Democrats regain a degree of power.

Last week he expressed frustration that the story, which had been attracting growing cable news headlines, had been pushed off front pages as multiple top figures in the Democratic party were targeted by a series of mail bombs.

The US president took to Twitter on Monday to again blast the migrant caravan, which is comprised mainly of Hondurans and is making its way slowly northward, mostly on foot, through Mexico.

“Many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border,” Mr Trump wrote, doubling down on the hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric that helped fuel his 2016 election victory.

“Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”

A group of around 300 migrants left San Salvador, the El Salvador capital, on foot Sunday heading for the border with Guatemala in the hope of eventually reaching the United States.

The group, made up mostly of men, has been inspired by the much larger Honduran caravan already in Mexico – and ignored warnings from El Salvador’s government not to put their lives in danger.

In April, Mr Trump ordered up to 4,000 National Guardsmen to head to the border as a different migrant caravan wound its way north. About 2,100 have deployed.

The United Nations estimates that 7,000 people have joined the Honduran caravan since it set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on October 13.