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After 5 Years, Survivors Await Justice in Killings in Honduras’ Moskitia

LADB Article ID: 80332
Category/Department: Honduras
Date: 2017-06-29
By: George Rodríguez

Two pregnant women, a teenager, and a young man were killed five years ago, and several people were injured, by US and Honduran security forces during what was described by officials as a counter-narcotics operation in the indigenous Moskitia region of eastern Honduras. The survivors are still demanding justice. The victims were on a boat taking 16 Miskito civilians on a seven-hour scheduled trip back to Paptalaya, their village in the Ahuas municipality on the Patuca River in the coastal province of Gracias a Dios. During the incident, which occurred on May 11, 2012, at around 2 a.m., M60 machine guns were fired from at least one of four US helicopters transporting personnel from the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Honduras’ Policía Nacional (National Police, PN). According to official versions, occupants of a light airplane that had landed in the area about an hour before the incident had placed 700 to 900 kg of cocaine in a pipante, a rustic, canoe-like boat. The pipante had been left, disabled, to drift downstream and was boarded by US and Honduran security officers. When the officers spotted the passenger boat, a larger vessel, they opened fire against it, an action that was followed by gunfire from one of the US helicopters flying over the area and transporting members of a DEA Foreign-Deployed Advisory and Support Team (FAST) and of the PN’s Equipo de Respuesta Táctica (Tactical Response Team, ERT).

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