TEGUCIGALPA - At least 17 people died in a battle between drug gangs over a cocaine shipment in the isolated Mosquito Coast of Honduras, government officials said on Tuesday.
A Nicaraguan who allegedly led a local drug gang was among the dead, said prosecutor Roberto Ramirez, and some of the other victims may also have been foreigners.
The battle took place on Monday in the swampy, rugged coast where traffickers move most of the cocaine that passes through Honduras on its way to Mexico and the United States.
The death toll was one of the highest from any single fight in recent years in the poor Central American nation. General Rene Osorio told local media that a dispute erupted over a shipment of about 700 kg (1,500 lbs) of cocaine.
Violence linked to organized crime in Honduras has sky-rocketed in recent years, partly due to the presence of Mexican drug gangs who use the Central American country as a transit point for contraband.
Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world, according to the United Nations, with 87 killings per 100,000.