Chanting and waving signs in protest of high electricity prices, thousands of unarmed indigenous demonstrators blockaded a highway in western Guatemala, forcing a standoff with police. Two truckloads of soldiers arrived and gunfire erupted, killing eight protesters and wounding 34.
Guatemalans fearing aftershocks huddled in the dark and frigid streets of this mountain town wrapped in blankets early Thursday, while others crowded inside its hospital, the only building left with electricity after a powerful earthquake killed at least 48 people and left dozens more missing.
A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Wednesday morning, killing up to 15 people, according to preliminary reports from the country's president.
Otto Perez Molina takes office as Guatemala's new president Saturday with a top priority of ending a long-standing U.S. ban on military aid imposed over concerns about abuses during the Central American country's 36-year civil war.
U.S. officials will closely watch the Iranian president's visit to Latin America this week, concerned that he is seeking to forge alliances amid growing international support for U.S.-led sanctions against Iran's nuclear program.