The shooting death of a 13-year-old Guatemalan boy has provoked the largest border mobilization for the country in decades. On April 20, Belizean troops killed Julio Alvarado Ruano and wounded his father and brother, which Belizean authorities said occurred after the troops came under fire.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales called the shootings a “cowardly and excessive attack” and ordered some 3,000 soldiers to amass near the border — which has been disputed since before Belize’s independence from the United Kingdom in 1981. The mobilization focuses on the Adjacency Zone, a buffer region along the border marked by the Sarstoon River.

“Belizean security forces and law enforcement officials would never perpetrate an armed attack on civilians, especially minors, except in exercise of the right to self defense,” a statement from the office of Belizean Prime Minister Dean Barrow read.

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Image courtesy of Guatemalan Ministry of Defense