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A 6-year-old Venezuelan boy died and two people were injured during an “assault” on a group of migrants in transit to North America in an area of the Darien, the dangerous jungle that serves as a natural border between Panama and Colombia, Panamanian authorities reported Wednesday.
Panama’s National Border Service (Senafront) said in a statement that the event occurred in the area of Tres Bocas, in the province of Darien, when “a group of migrants was assaulted by people with foreign accents in combination with indigenous Panamanians.”
The attack left “a child of approximately 6 years of age dead, and a woman and a man of legal age injured,” the security agency indicated.
Panama’s Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) reported that the minor killed in the attack was 6 years old and of Venezuelan nationality.
The victims of this event “were rescued, evacuated and transferred to a hospital center where they are receiving medical attention,” according to the information of the border security agency.
The Senafront reported that it found a 380 caliber weapon and illicit substances during the operation activated to search for those responsible for the assault, who are still being sought.
The Darien jungle is considered one of the most dangerous migratory routes in the world, both for its own wild environment and for the presence of armed groups and organized crime that has used it for decades for the illegal trafficking of drugs, arms, and people.
It is not clear how many people have died in the Darien in the midst of the current migration wave. Migrants report that travelers lose their lives from falls or injuries, because they simply cannot continue because they are sick or weak, drowning in swollen rivers, or at the hands of criminals.
Last July, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) warned that so far this year 192 migrants had died during their transit through Central America and Mexico, and renewed their call to governments to preserve the lives and protect the rights of people in mobility conditions.
As of last August, 102,067 irregular migrants arrived in Panama after crossing the jungle, which suggests that this year will surpass the historical figure of 133,726 travelers in 2021.
While last year the vast majority of irregular migrants were Haitians, this year 2021 it is the Venezuelans who are crossing the country the most, all bound for North America, especially the United States.
Panama receives irregular travelers in migration reception stations (ERM) located on its border with Colombia (south) and Costa Rica (north), where they take their biometric data and receive food and medical care, in a unique operation in the region that consumes millions of dollars annually, as the Government has said.