Five people have died and a dozen others injured as a result of a fire inside a Guatemalan bus that police says may have been caused by an attack with a home made explosive device, like a molotov cocktail.
National police spokesman Donald Gonzalez says officials are still running investigations to rule out mechanical causes, despite several witnesses saying that the bus was attacked.
Local NGO’s and human rights groups say more than 150 bus drivers and their assistants were murdered in 2010.
An investigation is underway but representatives of the bus driver’s union said that drivers had received repeated threats of violence from local gangs if they failed to pay protection money. According to Guatemalan news station Noti 7, the gang members were asking for a one-time payment of 60,000 quetzals, or about $7,300.
Guatemalan police estimate that bus drivers paid out more than $1.5m (£970,000) in extortion money to organized crime groups over the course of the year. They have arrested and charged more than 500 people with trying top extort money from businesses.
News of this incident come as the Mexican drug Cartel “Los Zetas” issue threats of war against the Guatemalan government.