Honduras drug gang shootout leaves 17 dead

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Seventeen people have been killed in a clash between rival drug gangs in Honduras, chief prosecutor Roberto Ramirez has said.

The shootout happened in La Mosquitia, a remote region on Honduras' Atlantic coast.

The area is the main transit route for cocaine being transported from South America to the United States.

Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world, much of it blamed on gang violence and drug traffickers.

Mr Ramirez said that one of those killed was a gang leader from neighbouring Nicaragua - Victor Centeno, known as "El Muco".

Earlier, Honduran Deputy Defence Minister Carlos Funez said the body of the drug lord had been taken across the border by members of his gang.

Navy and army personnel have been despatched to the area to investigate the incident.

Mr Funez attributed the clash to a "turf war" between rival criminal organisations.

Nicaraguan and Honduran gangs have been fighting for control of the sparsely populated Gracias a Dios province, from where they launch speedboats smuggling cocaine to the United States.

Local authorities said women and children could be among the victims.

More than 3,000 people have been killed in Honduras in the first six months of 2013, according to government figures.

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