Six kidnapped teenagers in Mexico confirmed dead

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Six teenagers kidnapped in Mexico’s violence-racked northern state of Zacatecas are confirmed dead, authorities said Thursday -- the latest abduction of youths to shock the Latin American nation.

Six bodies found the previous day have been identified as those of the teenagers, aged 14 to 18 years old, who were abducted on Sunday, senior Zacatecas state official Rodrigo Reyes said.

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“Prosecutors went to the scene... carried out the expert reports, forensic work, and last night the relatives were already able to identify the young people,” he told the Milenio television channel.

A seventh kidnapping victim was found alive in the municipality of Villanueva in Zacatecas, officials said Wednesday, and was hospitalized with bruises and possible fractures to the head and nose.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador expressed sorrow for the deaths and said the survivor, identified as Sergio Yobani Acevedo, was speaking to authorities as they try to establish the motive.

The teenagers were reportedly abducted by an armed group after a party at a rural home.

Two suspects were arrested in Villanueva and “there is a high probability that they are linked” to the crime, Reyes said Wednesday.

While the reason for the kidnappings was unclear, the powerful Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels are fighting for control of lucrative drug trafficking routes to the United States through Zacatecas.

Prosecutors said earlier the abductions were not believed to be connected to forced recruitment by criminal groups.

The case has echoes of the apparent kidnapping, torture and killing of five young Mexicans aged 19 to 22 by drug cartel hitmen in the western state of Jalisco in August.

Murders and abductions are common in Mexico, but the five friends’ disappearance while socializing caused shock and anger.

The reaction was in large part due to grisly leaked images showing the men kneeling and gagged with their hands tied.

One clip appeared to show a friend attacking another, presumably forced to do so by the captors.

None of the five has yet been found, though authorities have discovered various human remains during their search.

Mexico has recorded more than 420,000 murders since the launch of a controversial military antidrug offensive in 2006.

It has also registered more than 110,000 disappearances since 1962, most attributed to criminal organizations.

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