University students stormed two U.S. Embassy annex buildings and set them ablaze before they were dispersed with bullets, beatings and tear gas. At least five demonstrators were killed and 10 wounded.
An Embassy spokesman reported extensive damage from Thursday night's attack but said no U.S. citizens were injured.Police said the crowd of more than 1,000 students also set fire to about 25 automobiles belonging to embassy personnel that were parked near the annex complex.
The students were protesting the forced extradition this week of an alleged drug trafficker suspected of involvement in the killing of a U.S. drug agent. They also voiced anger at President Reagan's dispatch of additional American troops to Honduras last month.
Private Honduran guards posted at the embassy fired shots and lobbed tear gas grenades at the demonstrators from inside the main embassy building across the street from the annex buildings, said police sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
But Michael O'Brien, the Embassy spokesman, said neither U.S. Marine guards nor Honduran guards stationed at the embassy complex took violent action against the protesters. He said Honduran riot police had fired on the crowd.
Police identified the dead as Betty Molina, Alberto Pineda, Almencar Aguero, Rolando Herrazo and Henry Mencitta.
They said the four men were university students and Molina was a child who had accompanied her mother to the protest. Ages were not immediately available for the dead.
The riot police did not arrive at the embassy complex until nearly two hours after the demonstration began. No explanation was given for the delay.
Several demonstrators were seen carrying pistols, and students told reporters they had disarmed about 10 of the private embassy guards. Police said no guards were injured.
All the contents of two floors of a four-story annex building housing U.S. Information Agency offices were destroyed by the blaze, and the windows of both annex buildings were shattered by the students.
O'Brien, in a telephone interview, said demonstrators had surged into an annex complex: "There was a lot of damage. They burned a number of goods."
He would not say what goods or documents were stored in the annex. He also said no U.S. citizens were hurt.
Red Cross officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that in addition to those killed, 10 demonstrators were hospitalized with injuries from bullets, beatings and tear gas.
The three-hour demonstration began at the National Autonomous University on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa.
Shouting anti-U.S. slogans, the students marched seven miles to the embassy, located in an eastern district of the city.
When they arrived, the demonstrators broke into two embassy annex structures, spreading gasoline inside and setting them ablaze.
The demonstrators dispersed when police and army troops arrived but regrouped and said they planned to march to President Jose Azcona Hoyo's residence, about 300 yards south of the embassy.
But about 200 heavily armed troops quickly surrounded Azcona's residence, stopping the demonstrators from approaching.