SAN JOSE NACAHUIL, Guatemala (AP) — A group of men in a stolen car shot 29 people on the main street of a poor indigenous town in the mountains outside Guatemala City, killing 11 in an incident that some residents blamed on corrupt police officers.
Officials blamed the attack on gang violence but that was greeted with skepticism by some residents of San Jose Nacahuil. Residents expelled the national police six years ago and set up a community police force that patrols with sticks and machetes, and officials said the community had low crime rates in recent years.
Eight of the dead were shot in a just-opened cantina, a one-story cinderblock building where men were drinking beer and liquor around plastic tables. The majority of the wounded were shot in the street between the cantina and a second, older bar owned by the same local businessman. Two of those shot in the street died, along with a man shot in the second cantina.
Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla said the National Civil Police sent a patrol car to the town Saturday night after receiving an anonymous call reporting fears of an imminent attack. Officers "determined that everything was OK and the patrol car left," he said. "One hour later, the attack happened."
A relative of the cantina owner, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of official retaliation, said the owner reported that the police arrived without warning, said they were checking the permits for the new cantina and demanded a $60 bribe to approve them. When the man refused, the police told him to get all minors out of the bar and left, the relative said.
"He came home, said the police had come to ask for the papers and asked him for 500 quetzales. Then when he didn't give it to them, they told him not to sell liquor to minors and get them out of the bar," the relative said. "Soon afterward I heard the shots. It seems like he hid in the bathroom and they killed him there."
Regional police spokesman Jorge Aguilar suggested the attackers may have been gang members who tried to buy liquor in the bars but were refused. Many townspeople said they didn't believe that.
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