Honduran military uses tear gas on ousted leader’s backers

Honduran troops surround the Brazilian Embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa, on Tuesday.
Honduran police used tear gas Tuesday to disperse supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya outside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where Zelaya has sought refuge since secretly returning to the country, TV news reports showed.

Zelaya had reported the attack during an interview Tuesday with CNN en Espaol. Zelaya and news reports on Telesur TV said several people have been wounded. Those reports could not be independently verified. The Honduran government also has placed sharpshooters near the embassy and is blasting the compound with loud noise to drive people inside “crazy,” Zelaya said. Military and police were preventing people Tuesday from approaching the embassy, CNN en Espaol correspondent Elvin Sandoval reported. Authorities set up roadblocks 400 meters away from the embassy, Sandoval said. Officials also have extended an overnight curfew until 6 p.m. Tuesday and have closed the airport in Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital. “They have declared a state of siege,” Zelaya said. Interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti said Monday night that Zelaya will be arrested if he leaves the embassy.

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Zelaya was removed in a military-led coup June 28 after he tried to hold an election that day on a measure to allow a president to run for a second consecutive term. The measure would have asked Hondurans whether they wanted to place a referendum on the November presidential ballot, which would convene a constitutional assembly to allow a president to run for a second consecutive term. Zelaya’s term ends in January, and he would not have been subject to any measures adopted by the constitutional assembly. The Honduras Supreme Court ruled the June ballot initiative was illegal, and congress had decreed Zelaya couldn’t hold it. Micheletti has denied that a coup took place, saying that Zelaya was removed legally through constitutional means. He vowed Monday night to stay in power despite Zelaya’s return. It was not publicly known Tuesday how Zelaya got into the country, and he declined to provide details, telling CNN en Espaol that it was a 15- to 16-hour trip he took “with the help of Hondurans.”