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At least 13 killed in Guatemala Indigenous land dispute

At least 13 people were killed in western Guatemala, including women, children and a policeman, in a long-running land dispute between Indigenous villages, police said Saturday.

Police said the confrontation began on Friday and lasted until Saturday in an area located about 160 kilometers (100 miles) west of the Guatemalan capital by road.

Twelve people “have recently been found dead in the village of Chiquix, located on the side of Nahuala, which is a territorial boundary in the conflict with (the neighboring village) of Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan,” the National Civil Police (PNC) said in a statement.

It also reported the death of an officer, and added that “among the dead are children, men and women.”

A “semi-burned” truck was found at the site, as well as a patrol car with bullet holes that is believed to have been attacked, police added.

Two other police officers were wounded, according to the statement, which did not give further details.

The conflict between the two municipalities inhabited by Indigenous Mayans dates back a century, President Alejandro Giammattei said in May last year, shortly after an escalation of violence in the area led him to decree a state of siege.  

The differences “have persisted for more than 100 years” and have “claimed the lives of many, many villagers involved in the supposed defense of their lands”, Giammattei said at the time, when he also set up a dialogue to try to resolve the conflict. 

Last August, Interior Minister Gendri Reyes made a commitment to the inhabitants of the area to reinforce police presence in both municipalities to prevent conflict. 

Law enforcement “reject this type of inhumane, irrational acts,” the police said after the new events.

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