January 24, 2020 / 2:50 PM / a month ago

Guatemalan president declares state of alert in third municipality

FILE PHOTO: Guatemala's President Alejandro Giammattei takes part in a mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, after his swearing-in ceremony in Guatemala City, Guatemala January 14, 2020. REUTERS/Fabricio Alonso

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemala’s new president, Alejandro Giammattei, on Friday declared a state of alert in a gang-plagued municipality on the outskirts of Guatemala City, part of a new crime-fighting strategy.

The order restricts certain civil liberties, including outdoor gatherings, in the municipality of Villa Nueva on the southwest of the capital, following similar measures in the municipalities of Mixco and San Juan Sacatepequez in the west and northwest of Guatemala City.

The restrictions also limit the possession of firearms and allows security forces to dissolve any unauthorised meetings or public demonstrations.

In his inaugural address earlier this month, Giammattei vowed to put forward a law that designated street gangs as terrorist groups.

Northern Central American countries have some of the highest murder rates in the world. They have fallen sharply in recent years, but street gangs have increasingly turned to extortion and other crimes.

Reporting by Sofia Menchu; writing by Anthony Esposito; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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