Hondurans seek US drug agency exithttps://indianexpress.com/article/news-archive/web/hondurans-seek-us-drug-agency-exit/

Hondurans seek US drug agency exit

Outcry after DEA,local cops fire at boat,killing four

People in Honduras’ predominantly Indian Mosquito coast region burned down government offices and demanded that US drug agents leave the area,reacting angrily to an anti-drug operation in which they say police gunfire killed four innocent people,including two pregnant women.

The anger is aimed at both Honduran authorities and the US Drug Enforcement Administration,which confirmed on Wednesday that some of its agents were on a US-owned helicopter with Honduran police officers when the shooting happened Friday on the Patuca River in northeastern Honduras.

Honduran and US officials said only the police officers on the anti-drug mission fired their weapons,and not until the helicopter was shot at first. The officials said the aircraft was chasing a boat suspected of carrying drugs.

Local officials said the two men and two pregnant women killed were not drug smugglers,and were diving for lobster and shellfish.

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“These innocent residents were not involved in the drug problem,were in their boat going about their daily fishing activities… when they gunned them down from the air,’’ Lucio Vaquedano,mayor of the coastal town of Ahuas,said on Wednesday.

“For centuries we have been a peaceful people who live in harmony with nature,but today we declared these Americans to be persona non grata in our territory,’’ the leaders of Masta,Diunat,Rayaka,Batiasta and Bamiasta ethnic groups said in a press statement.

Ricardo Ramirez,chief of Honduras’ national police force,said the operation “was carried out with the support of the DEA,’’ and alleged the occupants of the boat were transporting drugs and fired at the helicopter.