An attack by gunmen in an indigenous town in Guatemala has left 11 dead and 17 injured, with the systematic nature of the attack suggesting the involvement of organized crime.
The mass killing took place at a newly-opened cantina in San Jose Nacahuil, a mountain town 11 miles outside Guatemala City, on the night of September 7, reported Prensa Libre.
Men wearing ski masks arrived just before 11 p.m. and opened fire inside the store, in the street outside, and in a second bar nearby owned by the same businessman, before leaving in a stolen car, reported La Prensa Grafica.
Village residents blamed corrupt police, saying that prior to the attack the bar owner had been visited by officers who had demanded a bribe, reported the Associated Press. When he refused, police told him to stop selling liquor to minors and to remove them from the bar. The police then left the scene only to return well after the massacre.
But Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said a police car had visited the bar after receiving an anonymous call warning them an attack was imminent. Lopez Bonilla blamed street gangs because of the “modus operandi they employed.”
Three mara groups operate in the area, he said.
InSight Crime Analysis
The bodies of eight of the nine dead were found in as many as five different rooms in the first bar, according to a crime scene diagram pubished by Prensa Libre (see below) — meaning the attackers went methodically through the building. Such a systematic approach suggests that a well organized criminal group with some training and experience was behind the attack.
Until more details emege however, it is impossible to do more than speculate about the motives. Regional police spokesman Jorge Aguilar suggested the attack was revenge by gang members against the bar owner for refusing to sell them alcohol. But locals insisted the police had something to do with it.
Guatemala’s national police force has a long history of severe corruption, and the town has had a difficult relationship with the police for a long time. The Associated Press says that residents burnt down the local police station several years ago after they falsely accused residents of kidnapping and no officers have been stationed in the town since.