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ANALYSIS

Gunmen Attack Bus in Honduras

HONDURAS / 7 JAN 2011 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

At least eight people died and four were wounded in eastern Honduras in an apparent revenge killing Thursday. The killings took place in Olancho, regions of which are believed to be controlled by the Sinaloa Cartel.

Olancho police chief Jaime Flores Ponce told La Prensa that the killings were targeting a female drug dealer. Four adults and four minors were reportedly killed during the attack, while the bus driver was among the wounded.

Olancho is an epicenter for smuggling in Honduras. Drug traffickers have built hundreds of clandestine landing strips in the province, many reportedly constructed by the Sinaloa Cartel. 

The attack recalls the bus bombing in Guatemala earlier this week and is a reminder of how gangs throughout the Northern Triangle consistently target transportation companies, usually for extortion purposes. After bus burnings in El Salvador killed sixteen passengers in June 2010, President Funes was moved to push an anti-gang law through Congress. 

The Northern Triangle currently has some of the highest homicide rates in the world, a phenomenon recently examined in detail by think-tank the Wilson Center. The Honduran government estimates that one person is killed every 88 minutes. In Guatemala, an estimated 16 violent deaths were reported daily in 2010, compared to 18 in 2009. 

Homicides have even spiked in neighboring Belize, where the current murder rate currently stands at 40 deaths per 100,000 people, according to the country's Channel 7 news. This is compared to Mexico's murder rate of 15 per 100,000 inhabitants. The broadcast channel counted 132 murders last year, a high number for one of the most sparsely populated countries in Central America, with a population of 333,200. 

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