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Honduran coup leader's nephew killed

The political upheaval in Honduras has taken a bloody turn with news that the nephew of the country's interim president, Roberto Micheletti, was found dead at the weekend in what police are calling an "execution-style" killing.

Enzo Micheletti's body was discovered on Sunday in woodland near Choloma, 250km north of the capital, Tegucigalpa. Police say the 24-year-old's hands were tied behind his back and his body was riddled with bullets.

The body of another young man was discovered nearby. Since neither victim was involved in politics, police say they are yet to establish whether the killing was linked to the coup that plunged the country into crisis in June.

Honduras has the highest murder rate in Central America, largely as a result of the growing drugs trade. Last year, 7,235 people, from an overall population of 7.7 million, fell victim to homicide, a 25 per cent increase from 2007.

News of the killing comes as US officials prepare to travel to Honduras in an effort to resolve the crisis that has endured since 28 June, when the army decided to forcibly remove the country's democratically-elected president.

Manuel Zelaya, a left-winger accused of attempting to alter the country's constitution so that he could remain in office indefinitely, was woken in the night by soldiers, frogmarched to the airport in his pyjamas, and ordered into exile.

Roberto Micheletti was installed in his place. But weeks later, Mr Zelaya managed to sneak back into Honduras. He has been holed up in the country's Brazilian embassy, with a handful of journalists and supporters, ever since.

The US is now hoping to broker a deal that will allow Mr Zelaya to return to office until his term expires in January. Presidential elections are scheduled to take place on 28 November, which would allow Mr Micheletti to seek a democratic mandate, should he so desire.

Talks have stalled over the issue of whether Mr Zelaya should be allowed to resume power before polling day. Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, held phone talks with both men on Friday, in a bid to reach agreement on the issue. None was forthcoming.

A senior US official, rumoured to be Ms Clinton, will now be despatched to Honduras on Friday, to try and hammer out a peace deal in person.