Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales declared a state of siege in the five northeastern departments of Alta Verapaz, El Progreso, Izabal, Petén, and Zacapa on Wednesday, September 4, after soldiers were ambushed by suspected drug traffickers. The state of siege is scheduled to last for 30 days after being approved by Congress. At least 22 municipalities will be affected by the measures, which include a curfew, the prohibition of demonstrations, and the facilitation of security forces to detain individuals. Additional soldiers and police officers will also be deployed into the departments. A heightened security presence and an increase in operations targeting drug traffickers are likely during the state of siege. Further engagements between security forces and suspected drug traffickers are also possible in the near term.
A military patrol was ambushed by suspected drug traffickers in El Estor (Izabal department) on Tuesday, September 3. The soldiers were investigating an aircraft that landed at a clandestine runway when they were attacked. According to the army, three soldiers were killed and two are still missing following the ambush.
Individuals in the abovementioned departments, and Guatemala more generally, are advised to monitor developments to the situation, anticipate heightened security measures and an increased security presence, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments.
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