Gunmen attack army entourage guarding Guatemalan presidential delegation

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei was unharmed Saturday after gunmen opened fire on members of the Guatemalan military guarding the presidential delegation.

One of the gunmen was injured in the shooting, which occurred about 50 miles away from the Mexican border, the Guatemalan army said.

When the shooting took place, Giammattei was about a mile away, the army added.

“Military officials stopped the vehicle as it neared a checkpoint guarding the presidential delegation during a visit by Giammattei to the area of Huehuetenango, 300 km (190 miles) east of capital Guatemala City,” Reuters reported, citing an army spokesman.

“The occupants of the car opened fire on the soldiers, who returned fire. Giammattei was about 2 km (a mile) away at the time.”

The vehicles’s occupants then fled the scene.

“Personnel of the Guatemalan army halted a vehicle that approached their location,” army spokesman Rubén Téllez said. “But the occupants of the vehicle, upon seeing the presence of the military personnel, started firing, to which the soldiers responded, leaving one person wounded while the rest of the occupants of the vehicle escaped in the direction of Mexico.”

According to ABC News, the president was likely not a target.

“It does not appear that Giammattei was ever in danger, was the target of the attack or was anywhere near the shooting,” the outlet said.

“The area is frequented by human traffickers and drug smugglers, many of whom work for Mexican gangs.”

A statement from the Guatemalan government assured citizens that Giammattei was unharmed.

“We inform the people of Guatemala and the international community that the president is unharmed and was evacuated from the area in a timely manner,” the statement said.

Giammattei, a conservative former prisons director, was elected in 2019, according to The New York Times.