Shocking security camera footage of apparently highly trained assassins executing two Honduran students in the street has drawn attention to the complex question of who is behind the spiraling violence in the Central American country.
The footage, published by El Heraldo, was taken from CCTV cameras in Comayaguela -- a city which together with Tegucigalpa forms Honduras’ capital -- in November last year.
The video shows two vehicles stopping in the street next to a group of five youths, who, according to the newspaper, were walking home. As armed men jump from the vehicles, three of the youths run and the assassins open fire.
The armed men then force the other two youths, brothers aged 18 and 20, who were both students, to lie face down on the floor before shooting them in the back of the head.
One of the youths died at the scene, while the other died minutes later in a medical center. The other youths managed to escape, although one, a cousin of the murdered brothers, was injured.
According to experts consulted by El Heraldo, the hit appeared to be a professional operation, and the killers demonstrated a high level of training.
The analyst highlighted how the hitmen in one of the vehicles were dressed the same and had the same weapons, bulletproof vests and balaclavas. The expert also identified the person who appeared to be leading the operation, who conducted a "police-style" search for weapons on the brothers.
According to the experts, the hit squad maintained strategic positions throughout the assault, establishing three rings around the area -- one to deal with the targets, a second to chase the escaping youths, and the third that stayed as lookouts.
Despite the footage, no one has been arrested for the crime. According to El Heraldo, the cameras that recorded the murders have now been turned off, after the Honduran government failed to pay the private security companies that operate them.
InSight Crime Analysis
Aside from being a brutal reminder of the violence sweeping through Honduras, which currently has the highest murder rate in the world, the footage raises important questions as to who is carrying out these murders.
The high level of professionalism of the assassins would seem to suggest that they are not members of street gangs, such as Barrio 18 and the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13), which are rife in Honduras. Large scale criminal groups also operate in the country, reportedly including Mexican cartel the Zetas.
One possible explanation for the hitmen's high level of training is that they could have had ties to the security forces. The police and military in Honduras are notoriously corrupt and involved in a wide range of criminal activities, including carrying out extrajudicial killings.