Woman, 19, arrested over Guatemala bus blast
GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan security forces have arrested a 19-year-old female gang member suspected of placing a bomb on a city bus which killed seven people and wounded 15 others.
Police and Public Ministry agents who captured her on Tuesday said they had been unable to firmly establish the identity of the suspect, in part because she has identified herself to authorities using at least two different names.
Authorities picked up the young woman, who they said goes by the alias «La Paquetona,» in a series of searches after the blast, which ripped through a packed public bus in Guatemala City late Monday.
Tattoos on the suspect identify her as a member of «a large criminal gang,» Attorney General Claudia Paz y Paz said late Tuesday.
Authorities have been cautious in asserting what caused the blast, as a technical report was expected by Thursday.
But government communications officer Ronaldo Robles described it as a «reprehensible terrorist attack since it was committed against innocent people.»
Criminal gangs would be the obvious suspects as bus drivers paid 1.5 million dollars in extortion money in 2010.
Bus guild president Gamaliel Chin said Tuesday the bus system received four anonymous phone calls last month threatening an attack.
In Guatemala, as well as nearby El Salvador and Honduras, organized crime syndicates such as Mara 18 or Mara Salvatrucha and the M-19 operate protection rackets and extortion rings.
Public transport workers are especially vulnerable. Human rights groups said that between January and November 2010, 119 drivers and 51 other transport workers were murdered in Guatemala.