San Pedro Sula (Honduras) (AFP) - A wave of violence in Honduras triggered by a contested presidential election in November has left dozens of people dead and hundreds in jail, officials and human rights activists say.
Incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernandez ultimately was declared the winner of the November 26 run-off election but only after a three week stretch of much-interrupted ballot counting that stoked tensions in the Central American country.
The left-wing opposition has spearheaded a protest campaign, insisting the elections were stolen from its candidate, former TV anchor Salvador Nasrallah.
The Honduran prosecutors' office has recorded 24 deaths in violence between the election date and December 28, including those of three police officers.
A spokesman, Yuri Mora, said "those that might have been committed by security forces are being investigated."
But Bertha Oliva, a rights activist, told AFP that up to December 31 there were 30 deaths. Since the beginning of this year, she said, "there have been more cases that we are documenting."
She added that one person was missing, and more than 1,000 people have been jailed for taking part in protests.
A military spokesman, Colonel Jorge Cerrato, told AFP his service had compiled no figures on the number of civilians killed in the protests.
He confirmed three police officers had died and said 114 police and soldiers were wounded by stones, sticks and at least one bullet.
Hernandez has warned that, while peaceful protests were permitted, violent outbreaks would be severely punished by security forces, the intelligence service and the courts.