Police say they are looking into a report that a Belize Defense Force (BDF) member was shot and hospitalised after an incident at the Valentin Conservation Post on the Belize-Guatemala border.
According to Police Commissioner Chester Williams, the incident occurred last Saturday and the soldier was shot in the buttocks. He stated that the investigation is being carried out by BDF and police investigators.
“At this time, investigators are attempting to determine who fired the shot and from what direction. According to the BDF soldier, the shot was possibly fired from Guatemala. We’re still trying to figure out if that’s true.
“I know the BDF who was injured is still in the Western Regional Hospital, and from what I’ve been told, the slug is still lodged in him,” Williams said, adding that “the slug will be very important in determining the type of weapon that was used, as well as the trajectory and distance.”
“So, as soon as the doctor finishes the surgery, we’ll get the slug from him and send it to the National Forensic Service for ballistic testing.” This will tell us whether the slug was fired from a BDF weapon or from a weapon that does not belong to the BDF. So we’re looking into that right now to figure out what happened,” the top cop told reporters.
According to local media, Belizean and Guatemalan authorities have since launched a joint investigation to determine who fired the shot.
The two countries are involved in a territorial dispute, which is currently being heard by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
After the dissolution of the United Provinces of Central America in 1839, Guatemala claimed sovereignty over Belize as a “inheritance” from Spain, a claim the British rejected because neither Spain nor any Central American entity had ever occupied Belizean territory.
According to Williams, the police checked with the BDF and “they confirmed that every officer who was at that outpost did indeed account for all their rounds.”
He stated that while the incident occurred in Chiquibul, it was not “too far” from the Guatemalan border.
“We’ve been there before. It’s a little far for a shotgun or a small weapon. However, a long-range weapon, such as an AR-15 or 16 and SLR, may be able to travel further and, if fired from the Guatemalan side of the border to that area, it may hit a target.
“But, once again, we are not saying the shooter was in Guatemala; the shooter could have been in Belize as well, just a little closer to the Adjacency Zone to have a closer reach to its target.” So we’re looking into it all,” Williams said.
The BDF said in a statement that it “remains committed to maintaining vigilance during patrols on our border area in order to ensure Belize’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”
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