Thursday, April 8, 2004

Another severed human head found in Honduras

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (Reuters) -- A severed head was found on a park bench in northern Honduras on Thursday, the 10th such incident since the government began cracking down on youth gangs last year, police said.

The man's head was in a black plastic bag and, as in previous cases, was accompanied by a note to Honduran President Ricardo Maduro, who ordered the crackdown.

The message read, "Maduro old man, we are so hungry we are eating people," police spokesman Edgardo Zeron said.

The head was found in a busy park in El Progreso, 94 miles (150 km) north of the capital Tegucigalpa.

"Nobody has claimed responsibility for this episode of terror," Zeron told Reuters, adding that a special police unit was investigating the decapitations.

Some 1,000 suspects have been rounded up in the sweep on gangs that started in August. Police now have the power to arrest people simply on suspicion of being associated with a gang.

Some 33,000 youths are believed to be members of street gangs in Honduras, where 80 percent of the population lives in poverty. Aid groups say more than 2,200 youths have died in Honduras since 1998 in gang wars or illegal executions of gang members by rogue policemen.

The gangs are active in other Central American countries and recently moved into Mexico.

Copyright 2004 Reuters.