Source AP ©

Clash between border guards and drug traffickers leads to death

An exchanged of gunfire between border guards and drug traffickers aboard a boat off eastern Cuba led to killing of two suspected smugglers and wounding a third.

Border officials on ocean patrol spotted a Bahamas-registered speedboat in Cuban waters around midday Monday near Maisi in the easternmost province of Guantanamo, according to an official statement published in the Communist Party newspaper Granma.

The speedboat's four unidentified crew members, all believed to be Bahamians, ignored orders to halt, instead opening fire and ramming their craft into the patrol boat.

Authorities found about 590 kilograms (1,300 pounds) of marijuana aboard the speedboat. The official statement said the wounded crew member was treated and taken into custody with a fourth crew member, who was unharmed. Both were charged with drug trafficking.

Although illegal drug use is limited in Cuba, traffickers often use the island or its waters to move narcotics from other parts of the Caribbean to the United States.

"The government of Cuba laments the loss of human life that resulted during the clash caused by this grave criminal act," the statement said. Cuba nevertheless "ratifies its permanent commitment to the battle against drug trafficking."

"Cuba reaffirms that its territorial waters and adjacent seas will never be allowed to be used as a secure transshipment point for traffickers," the statement said.

The statement said Bahamian authorities were cooperating in the investigation.

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