GUATEMALA CITY – At least one person was killed and four others wounded when gunmen opened fire on Penitentiary System guards in two separate incidents, officials said.
The first attack occurred Saturday near the Pavon prison in the city of Fraijanes, located 16.5 kilometers (about 10 miles) southeast of the capital, leaving guard Marco Antonio Lopez dead and a female guard wounded, Penitentiary System spokesman Rudy Esquivel said.
The two guards were heading home on a bus when gunmen opened fire on them from a vehicle, Esquivel said.
The second incident happened in the southern section of Guatemala City, where four guards heading home in a taxi were attacked.
Gunmen in another vehicle opened fire on the taxi, wounding three of the guards, Esquivel said.
Investigators have not identified the motive for the attack and are trying to determine if the two incidents are connected, the prison service spokesman said.
On Sept. 7, a series of attacks on prison guards and officials were launched after inmates were transferred to a maximum-security prison, leaving several prison officials dead.
The Penitentiary System’s Guatemala City headquarters was attacked two days earlier, but no one was injured.
Government Minister Raul Velasquez blamed the attacks on prison officials on organized crime groups and youth gangs angry over the operations launched against them by the security forces.
Guatemala has been dealing with a crime wave that has driven the murder rate up to around 17 a day.
The more than 5,400 homicides reported last year in Guatemala – a nation of approximately 13 million – was nearly equal to the number of murders in neighboring Mexico, which has more than 100 million inhabitants and is the scene of open warfare among rival drug cartels.