Curfew in Honduras town after 13 people shot dead at birthday party

More than 20 people killed over the weekend in alleged drug-related violence

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Monday 26 June 2023 07:43 BST
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Forensic personnel and a police officer remove the body of one of the 13 people killed in a pool hall in Choloma
Forensic personnel and a police officer remove the body of one of the 13 people killed in a pool hall in Choloma (AFP via Getty Images)

The Honduran government imposed curfews on two northern cities after over 20 people were killed in two separate attacks amid escalating drug cartel-related brutal attacks in the Central American country.

Heavily armed men opened fire in a billiards hall during a birthday party in the northern manufacturing city of Choloma on Saturday, killing 13 people and seriously wounding another.

Ten men and a woman were killed, said national police spokesperson Miguel Martinez.

At least 11 other killings on Saturday in separate incidents across the northern Valle de Sula region, brought the death toll to at least 24.

President Xiomara Castro on Sunday announced a 15-day curfew in Choloma between 9 pm and 4 am, effective immediately, and another in San Pedro Sula, effective 4 July.

"Multiple operations, raids, captures and checkpoints are initiated," Ms Castro said via Twitter.

The president said the law and order measures were being put in place in response to "the brutal and ruthless terrorist attack by hired killers trained and directed by drug lords" in the Sula Valley.

"Multiple operations, raids, captures and checkpoints are initiated," she added.

There has been a partial state of emergency in parts of Honduras since December in a bid to confront violent gangs and turf wars.

National Police officers stand guard outside a pool hall after eleven people were killed, in Choloma
National Police officers stand guard outside a pool hall after eleven people were killed, in Choloma (AFP via Getty Images)

Security minister Gustavo Sanchez said that the government would send a proposal to congress to "classify members of a criminal structure, maras or gangs as terrorists" in the coming days.

The minister added that 1,000 additional police and military are being sent to the Sula Valley, where Choloma and San Pedro Sul are located.

The government has also offered a cash reward of 800,000 Lempiras (£25,620) to help identify and capture those responsible for the killings in Choloma.

The weekend's bout of violence comes at the heels of the killing of 46 inmates by Barrio 18 gang members in a women’s prison in Tamara, north of Tegucigalpa.

Following the massacre, Ms Castro had pledged to take “drastic measures", but did not explain how inmates identified as members of the Barrio 18 gang were able to get guns and machetes into the prison, or move freely into an adjoining cell block and slaughter all the prisoners there.

Video clips presented by the government from inside the prison showed several pistols and a heap of machetes and other bladed weapons that were found after the riot.

Last Thursday, three people, Ericka Julissa Bandy García, wife of an alleged associate of former president Juan Orlando Hernández, were killed in a bakery in the city of San Pedro Sula.

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