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Tragic killing of Honduran teen leaves US asking questions

In May, Honduran soldiers tracked down and killed a 15-year-old boy. This week, the boy's father found that the soldiers had been trained and equipped by the US. The State Department is pressing the Honduran government for answers.

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An image of late Ebed Jaasiel Yanes, 15, sits on his bed at his parent's home in Tegucigalpa, Honduras Oct. 17. According to his relatives, Yanes was killed by soldiers early Sunday, May 27, when he was riding a motorcycle near a military checkpoint.

Esteban Felix/AP

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U.S. officials are demanding answers after learning soldiers trained, vetted and equipped by the U.S. government chased down and killed a teenager in Honduras, where the U.S. is already withholding tens of millions of dollars in police and military aid over concerns about human rights violations.

Ebed Yanes, 15, was killed the night of May 26 after driving through a military checkpoint. His father, Wilfredo Yanes, a mild-mannered organic food supplier, tracked down the soldiers, eventually uncovering an allegedly high-level attempt to hide evidence. Further, his quest led to new information reported this week that the unit in question was supported by the U.S.

"The incident with Ebed Yanes was a tragedy and we urge the Honduran government to assure the perpetrators are brought to justice," State Department press adviser William Ostick said Wednesday.

Ostick said U.S. Ambassador Lisa Kubiske in Honduras had discussed the case with the Honduran special prosecutor for human rights and the country's armed forces shortly after the May incident and "encouraged them to investigate the case fully."

The U.S. had vetted the unit, and then provided it with a Ford 350 truck that was used to chase the teen from the checkpoint. Under U.S. law, all foreign units who receive military or police assistance are vetted before receiving any equipment or training.

Ostick said the U.S. expects individuals and units receiving U.S. support to have "the utmost respect for human rights throughout their careers." He said the U.S. government is helping the Honduras strengthen its internal affairs and insists that officials accused of wrongdoing be investigated.

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