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POOL HALL MASSACRE

Curfews imposed after 22 dead in night of violence in northern Honduras

Police officers surround the residence of former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, 14 February 2022. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Gustavo Amador)

The Honduran government announced curfews on Sunday in two northern cities after 22 people were shot dead overnight in separate attacks amid escalating violence in the country.

Heavily armed men opened fire on Saturday night in a billiards hall in a neighbourhood in the northern manufacturing city of Choloma, killing 11 people and seriously wounding three more, police press person Edgardo Barahona told Reuters.

An official source not authorized to speak to the media told Reuters there had been at least 11 other killings on Saturday in separate episodes across the northern Valle de Sula zone, including in the industrial city of San Pedro Sulay.

President Xiomara Castro announced via Twitter a 15-day curfew in Choloma between 9pm and 4am, effective immediately, and another in San Pedro Sula, effective July 4.

“Multiple operations, raids, captures and checkpoints are initiated,” Castro said.

There has been a partial state of emergency in parts of Honduras since December in a bid to confront violent gangs and turf wars.

Security Minister Gustavo Sanchez announced later Sunday the government would be sending a proposal to Congress to “classify members of a criminal structure, maras or gangs as terrorists” in the coming days.

The minister, speaking at a press conference, added that 1,000 additional police and military are being sent to the Sula Valley, where Choloma and San Pedro Sul are located.

The government is also offering a cash reward of 800,000 lempiras ($32,707) to help identify and capture those responsible for the killings in Choloma, the president said.

The attacks over the weekend follow a deadly incident earlier this week at a women’s prison near the capital Tegucigalpa that killed 46 people amid a reported break-in by gang members.

(Reporting by Gustavo Palencia; Writing by Isabel Woodford; Editing by Mark Porter and Chris Reese.)

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