GUATEMALA CITY : A top Guatemalan general and four other officers were killed on Wednesday when the helicopter they were in crashed near the country's northern border with Mexico, Guatemala's government said. Chief of the Defense Staff General Rudy Ortiz and the four others had gone to inspect military installations when the Bell 206 helicopter came down in thick cloud in the village of El Nenton in the Huehuetenango region, the Defense Ministry said. Guatemala's Defense Minister Manuel Lopez said the causes of the crash were still being investigated, but added he did not believe foul play had been involved.

The Central American country has one of the highest murder rates in the Americas and the government is battling to crack down on violent drug gangs from Mexico that use Guatemala as a staging post to move contraband north to the United States. Ortiz, 51, had been touted as a potential future Defense Minister by Guatemalan media in recent weeks.