Honduras crime: Soldiers deployed on public buses

Honduran soldier riding a public bus in Tegucigalpa The government hopes the military escorts will reassure commuters

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The government of Honduras has begun deploying soldiers to protect public buses as part of a campaign to reduce soaring levels of violent crime.

Two soldiers will ride each bus in the capital, Tegucigalpa, and the second city, San Pedro Sula.

President Porfirio Lobo said the move would free police officers for street patrols in crime-ridden neighbourhoods.

Public buses in Honduras are frequently attacked by gangs who rob passengers and extort money from drivers.

The Honduran government began deploying troops on the streets last year in response to a public outcry over violent crime and the failure of the police to ensure security.

Honduras has the world's highest murder rate, according to the UN, with much of the killing linked to drug-trafficking.

In an address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, President Lobo again blamed the international drug trade for the violence afflicting his country.

"Our misfortune is to be in between the north and south," Mr Lobo said, referring to Honduras's role as a transit point for South American cocaine being smuggled to the US.

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