TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — An official probe determined that two victims of a shooting during a joint U.S.-Honduran anti-drug operation were not pregnant and none of the gunfire that killed anyone came from a law-enforcement helicopter, a government investigator said Friday, contradicting witness statements and claims by human rights groups.
Four people in all were killed during the May raid in the Mosquitia region, and local people claimed they were innocent civilians traveling a river at night. Honduran police said the people killed were in a boat that fired on authorities. The DEA said none of its agents fired in the incident.
German Enamorado, chief of Honduras' Office of Human Rights, said Friday that two female victims were not pregnant as witnesses had reported.
Enamorado also said forensic tests show the bullets that hit the four people killed were fired horizontally, not from above. In addition, the slugs were from lower-caliber bullets used by M-16 rifles and not the heavier weapon mounted on the helicopter, he said.
Enamorado said state investigators had spoken with all the Honduran officers involved in the operation and performed forensic analysis of 26 of the 29 firearms present at the time of the shooting. He said the DEA had not allowed Honduran investigators access to the DEA agents who were present or their guns.
The shooting erupted during Operation Yunque, a joint initiative using six U.S. helicopters and a special team of DEA agents in addition to the Honduran police.
Operation Yunque led to the shooting of at least seven people during the three months it was carried out, including at least one fatally shot by DEA agents who were approaching a crashed plane they suspected was carrying drugs.
The operation has been the object of intense criticism in Honduras.