GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — One person died and at least two more were injured by gunshots near a pro-democracy demonstration in Guatemala on Monday, local authorities said.
Victor Gomez, spokesman for the volunteer firemen in Malacatan, near the border with Mexico, said it was not clear whether the victims were protesters themselves, or just caught nearby.
The incident marked the beginning of a third week of demonstrations against Attorney General Consuelo Porras, who protesters accuse of attempting to undermine a popular vote for progressive President-elect Bernardo Arévalo.
Videos from Malacatan circulating on social media painted a chaotic picture. Some appear to show civilians and police officers fleeing as bursts of gunfire are heard. In one recording, a vehicle and a police patrol are burning. It is not clear who fired the shots.
In response to the incident, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei said authorities were “carrying out corresponding investigations” and promised more details in due course.
The National Police later announced the arrest of 11 people.
The Interior Department said in a statement that after the attack it coordinated a search for the vehicles involved and found three wounded people, but it made no mention of a death.
Arévalo took to the social network X, formerly known as Twitter, to condemn the violence. “We demand that the authorities ensure the safety of those who peacefully demonstrate and guarantee that this act does not go unpunished,” he said.
The incident is the latest violent episode after 15 days of protests and roadblocks in the Central American country.
On Sunday, Porras’ supporters in Guatemala City called for violence against demonstrators blocking roads. Then on Monday, other social media videos appeared to show people in civilian clothing carrying machetes attacking protestors at three roadblocks in the township of El Asintal, Retalhuleu, just under 55 miles (90 kilometers) southwest of Malacatan.
Porras herself has called for the roadblocks to be cleared, using force if necessary, “in the public interest.” On Monday she urged the government to sack Interior Secretary Napoleón Barrientos for failing to do so.
Demonstrators maintain that after Arévalo’s victory in the August runoff election, Porras mounted an undemocratic challenge against Arévalo, his left-wing Seed Movement party and electoral authorities. They have called for the resignation of Porras, prosecutors Rafael Curruchiche and Cinthia Monterroso, and Judge Fredy Orellana.