Gunmen kill 23 in attack on bus in Honduras
December 23, 2004
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Gunmen opened fire on a public bus in northern Honduras late Thursday, killing at least 23 passengers and wounding 16 others, police said. Many of the passengers were women and children.
The crowded bus was traveling through a congested area of Chamelecon, 125 miles north of Tegucigalpa, when a car cut it off and the assailants fired from positions behind the bus, said police spokesman, Deputy Commissioner Wilmer Torres.
“It was an unbelievable massacre,” he said in a telephone interview. “We don’t know yet who did it.”
Torres said the majority of the passengers were women and children but it wasn’t immediately clear how many of them were among the casualties.
Sixteen of the victims died aboard the bus while the seven others died after being taken to a public hospital in the nearby industrial city of San Pedro Sula, he said.
The attackers left a message containing “vulgar words against the president of the congress,” Porfirio Lobo Sosa, and Security Minister Oscar Alvarez, Torres said.
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“In the note, the killers present themselves as a revolutionary group that opposes the death penalty,” something Lobo has promoted in political ads, he said.
Lobo Sosa is one of four candidates who will compete in a primary on Feb. 20 to determine the ruling National Party’s presidential candidate.
The note added that “people should take advantage of this Christmas, because the next one will be worse,” Torres said.
Police arrested a suspect who’s believed to be a member of the violent Mara Salvatrucha gang and confiscated a pistol and several automatic weapons, the police official said.
The Mara Salvatrucha gang and another, Mara 18, claim to have more than 100,000 members in Honduras. The gangs are known for extorting “protection” money from residents as well as committing robberies, homicides and other crimes.