Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Cover Up in the Bajo Aguan?

Competing stories have developed about what happened in the Bajo Aguan last Friday, when a combined military-police patrol alleges it was ambushed by foreign guerrillas at La Consentida plantation, near Sonaguera.

The official story today, as told by Secretary of Defense Marlon Pascua, is that foreigners ambushed the patrol in the La Consentida orange plantation. Found at the scene were rifle bullet casings (other reports specify AK-47 casings) and fragments of an exploded grenade. Pascua is quoted as saying
"The intent of these bands is that we not patrol this sector, that the patrols not do their job..."

Well, that's one theory... Its not clear how Pascua knows the intent of the attackers with such certainty, nor why he knows with the same certainty that the attackers were foreigners. Surely by now his troops have had enough time to identify all the foreigners in the zone. Yet as of yesterday, none of the identified foreigners were doing anything suspicious, according to the military.

Pascua went on the radio to tell everyone he's given the patrols permission to return fire if fired upon.

Meanwhile, the campesinos of MUCA tell a much different story about what happened on Friday.

The MUCA spokesperson, Vitalino Alvarez, told La Tribuna that the site of the supposed ambush is not one where ambush is possible. The road is straight, and there is no forest nor bushes to hide in.

According to him, a drunken soldier detonated a grenade inside his patrol vehicle. There are no guerrillas in the Bajo Aguan, he told La Tribuna, only people dedicated to their work.

Vitalino Alvarez was quoted El Heraldo as saying:
"It was a grenade that exploded in the cabin of the car. Also I was at the hospital when they arrived; there was a boy wounded only in the lower legs below the knee; ....how could they shoot him only below the knee.... Another had a wound only on his nose produced by a grenade fragment. If it had been a rife shot, he'd be dead."

El Heraldo's coverage today makes it clear that both the Police and Military agree with the MUCA spokesperson that grenade fragments were in the passenger compartment of the truck, and that it was the driver and passenger in the truck that died, from the explosion of a grenade on the floor of the truck.

Yet the spokesperson for the Xatruch II batallion, Roger Martinez, claims to have bullet casings from Falk rifles, AK-47s, and .22 calibre rifles. He also claims the area where the ambush occurred is forested. He denied there were grenade fragments in the cabin of the car. A grenade would have dismembered the occupants, according to Martinez.

The only Falke rifles I can find are all air rifles; probably the patrol was not ambushed by pellet guns! Perhaps he meant FN-FAL rifles, which are in abundant use by the Army in Honduras according to Janes, and take the very same caliber ammunition as the AK-47, 7.62 mm. NATO standard ammo.

A .22 rifle would be an insane thing to use to attack an armed military patrol. It is 1850s military technology.

It is good for rabbit and squirrel hunting, though.

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