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Guatemala veterans stage violent protest to demand civil war bonus

The veterans of the 1960-66 war burst on to the grounds of the country’s congress building and set several vehicles on fire.

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Firefighters and police work together to douse a vehicle with water (Moises Castillo/AP)

Firefighters and police work together to douse a vehicle with water (Moises Castillo/AP)

Firefighters and police work together to douse a vehicle with water (Moises Castillo/AP)

Former soldiers who are demanding a bonus for serving in Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war have burst on to the grounds of the country’s congress building and set several vehicles on fire.

The protesters broke down gates leading to the building’s car park and torched at least three vehicles.

Some of the demonstrators apparently carried machetes, and some congress employees fled over a rooftop to escape.

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Riot police form a cordon against a group of veterans (Moises Castillo/AP)

Riot police form a cordon against a group of veterans (Moises Castillo/AP)

Riot police form a cordon against a group of veterans (Moises Castillo/AP)

Legislator Carlos Barreda wrote on his Twitter account that some of his colleagues were trapped inside the building.

Another legislator, Luis Fernando Pineda, wrote that the ex-soldiers set fire to offices adjoining the car park.

Soldiers eventually showed up to force the protesters out. The civil war pitted the army and police against leftist rebels. It ended with the signing of peace accords in 1996.

The former soldiers are demanding a bonus of about 16,000 dollars (£11,600) for having served in the civil war, in which at least 200,000 people, most of them civilians, died.

The US-backed army was responsible for most of the deaths, according to the findings of an independent truth commission set up to investigate the bloodshed.

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