Three killed, eight wounded in attacks on Guatemalan police

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GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Three policemen were killed and seven officers wounded in attacks on police across Guatemala on Monday night, authorities said, hours after a bloody gang riot in a juvenile detention center was put down in the Central American nation.

One of the policemen died of his wounds in a hospital on Tuesday morning, and a civilian was also injured in the attacks, authorities said.

Eight attacks were carried out against police stations and patrol cars in the capital, Guatemala City, while another assault occurred in western Quetzaltenango department, authorities said.

The assaults in Guatemala City appeared to have been carried out by the Barrio 18 gang, one of two powerful gangs, a police spokesman in the capital said. Thirteen gang members were arrested and authorities seized weapons including a grenade launcher, five assault rifles and four pistols, police said.

Jailed Barrio 18 gang members rioted and took several guards hostage on Sunday to demand the return of 250 of the gang’s members who had been recently transferred to another juvenile detention center. Authorities freed the guards on Monday. Around 45 of those involved in the riots were awaiting charges.

President Jimmy Morales is due to make a statement on the gangs later on Tuesday, his office said.

Barrio 18 and its rival Mara Salvatrucha control entire city neighborhoods in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Rising gang violence has made the three countries among the world’s deadliest nations outside a war zone in terms of murder rates, says UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes every year.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Joseph Radford and Paul Simao