Latin America & Caribbean

Guatemala youth gangs kill three police officers

Inmates of the Male Juvenile Detention Centre attend a hearing at a court in Guatemala City on March 21, 2017. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Guatemala's interior minister said the attacks on police were probably in retaliation for Monday's raid on a youth detention centre

The authorities in Guatemala say there has been a series of attacks on police officers after riot police stormed a youth detention centre on Monday.

Interior Minister Francisco Rivas said three officers had died as a result of the assaults.

He said the attacks were probably in retaliation for the raid on the detention centre.

It is controlled by the notorious 18th Street Gang, which is active across Central America.

Mr Rivas said 13 suspected gang members had been arrested and many weapons recovered, including a grenade launcher, five assault rifles and several small-calibre weapons.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption 18th Street Gang members rioted, killing two guards and taking four hostages .
Image copyright AP
Image caption Riot police entered the youth detention centre on Monday and rescued four hostages

The storming of the youth detention centre just outside Guatemala City was ordered after dozens of inmates rioted.

They set mattresses alight, killed two guards and took four others hostage.

Riot police entered the facility and rescued the hostages, but two of them died later.

Members of violent street gangs make up the bulk of Guatemala's prison population and deadly conflict inside prison walls is not uncommon.

The incident came less than two weeks after 40 girls died in a fire at a state-run children's shelter, also near Guatemala City.

That fire, too, is believed to have started when a mattress was set alight.

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