efe-epaGuatemala City

Six people were wounded Monday when a homemade bomb accidentally detonated aboard a city bus in this capital, the Guatemalan government said.

Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart told a press conference that a female gang member brought the device aboard the bus to extort money from the driver.

"The gang member was apparently given a shove by the bus driver and when she fell, the homemade device exploded and blew off some of her fingers. She is currently being treated," the minister said.

The spokesman for Guatemala City's fire rescue department, Edwin Villagran, said the assailant was identified as Mirna Elizabeth Juarez, 19.

The attacker and the other five wounded were taken to Roosevelt Hospital, whose director, Marco Antonio Barrientos, said the injured ranged in age from 23 to 79.

Degenhart noted that this use of explosives is unusual, adding that "this was not a direct attack, it was an accident - the gang member threatened the driver with extortion and he knocked her down and it caused the explosion."

However, he acknowledged that extortion "is a direct criminal offense" against passenger transport and recalled that the commitment of security forces is to protect citizens.

"I've always said that street gangs are urban terrorists and it's important that the people are aware that these people don't have the slightest concern about human life," he stated, adding that "a thorough investigation" will be made because "we're approaching an electoral event that must be carried out democratically."

Protection rackets targeting transit operators and small-business owners are a major source of income for the gangs.