Guatemalans climb volcano in protest against violence

More than 600 women were murdered in the small Central American country last year

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Around 12,000 Guatemalans have climbed an extinct volcano in a protest against domestic violence.

The activists formed what they hope was the world's longest human chain all the way to the peak of the 3,765m (12,352 feet) Volcan de Agua.

Among those taking part in the "Walk for Life" was Guatemala's new President, Otto Perez Molina.

Guatemala has one of the highest murder rates in the world, and domestic violence is a particular problem.

The Volcan de Agua or "Water Volcano" - also known as Hunahpu by the indigenous Maya - towers above the colonial city of Antigua, 45km (28 miles) south-west of Guatemala City.

"We want violence to end in this country, we don't want Guatemala to be one of the most violent countries in the world," President Perez Molina said as he joined the crowds hiking to the top.

Mr Perez Molina - a former army general - took office last week promising tough action against violent crime.

'Generational change'

Also taking part in the climb was British ambassador Julie Chappell whose embassy helped fund and organise the event.

"We're trying to get young leaders to start a generational change in attitudes where people say - until now we've sort of accepted that there is this culture of violence, but no more", Ms Chappell said.

The Guatemalan authorities receive tens of thousands of reports of domestic violence each year, and last year 550 women were murdered.

The Central American country has one of the highest murder rates in the world, but less than 4% of cases end in a successful conviction.

The violence is partly seen as a legacy of the 1960-96 civil war between the state and left-wing guerrillas, in which more than 200,000 people were killed, most of them by the army.

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