Two killed, nine wounded in attacks on Guatemalan police

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Policemen place the body of a guard killed after a riot by underage inmates in a pickup truck, outside the Correctional Center Stage 2, in San Jose Pinula

Policemen place the body of a guard killed after a riot by underage inmates in a pickup truck, outside the Correctional Center Stage 2, in San Jose Pinula, Guatemala, March 19, 2017. REUTERS/Luis Echeverria

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Two police officers were killed and eight wounded in attacks on police across Guatemala on Monday night, authorities said, hours after a bloody riot in a juvenile detention centre was put down in the Central American nation.

A civilian was also injured in the attacks, according to authorities.

Eight attacks were carried out against police stations and patrol cars in the capital, Guatemala City, while another assault occurred in western Quetzaltenango department, authorities said.

The assaults in Guatemala City appeared to have been carried out by the Barrio 18 gang, one of two powerful rival gangs, a police spokesman in the capital said. Thirteen gang members were arrested, and authorities seized weapons including a grenade launcher, five assault rifles and four pistols, police said.

Jailed Barrio 18 gang members rioted and took several guards hostage on Sunday to demand the return of 250 of the gang's members who had recently been transferred to another juvenile detention centre. Authorities freed the guards on Monday and around 45 of those involved in the riots were awaiting charges.

President Jimmy Morales is due to make a statement on the gangs later on Tuesday, his office said.

Barrio 18 and its rival Mara Salvatrucha control entire city neighborhoods in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.

Rising gang violence has made the three countries among the world's deadliest nations outside a war zone in terms of murder rates, says UNHCR, the U.N. refugee agency, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their homes every year.

(Reporting by Sofia Menchu; Editing by Joseph Radford and Paul Simao)

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