Monday, January 23, 2012

Eight Killed, 20 Injured When Gunmen Attack Disco in Guatemala City

At least eight people were shot and killed and 20 others wounded this weekend when unidentified gunmen armed with assault rifles opened fire at a disco in Villa Nueva, a suburb of Guatemala City. Five individuals were left dead and the scene or died after being transported to the hospital. It is unknown as to how many participants left the scene before police arrived.

The gunmen opened fire around midnight on Saturday at the El Ranchon nightclub , which is located in a high-crime area. Investigators found five M-16 assault rifles and dozens of bullet casings at the crime scene, as well as the taxi used by the gunmen to reach the disco.

COMMENT: Villa Nueva, which is home to nearly 1 million people, has been plagued by crime for years due to the presence of street gangs that have carved out chunks of the city as their personal territory.

Interestingly, this is the first mass-casualty shooting to occur since President Otto Perez Molina took office earlier this month, vowing to use an “iron hand” and the army, if necessary, to combat crime.

An average of 16 murders per day, according to official figures, occurred in 2011 in Guatemala, making the country one of the most violent in Latin America.

For our readers who frequently travel to Guatemala, it is always best for foreign visitors to check with their hotel concierge to find out which zones in Guatemala City are safe to travel in. It is also suggested that foreign ministry and/or US Department of State websites be carefully reviewed before departure from home.

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