The warden of a maximum-security prison that holds some of Guatemala's most dangerous criminals was gunned down on the streets of this capital, authorities said Thursday.

Amilcar Coronado Gonzalez was killed Wednesday night, Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told reporters.

It was only two weeks ago that the 40-year-old former army sergeant became director of El Infiernito prison, located in the southern province of Escuintla.

Coronado was driving down a busy street when he was intercepted by a least four armed assailants traveling on motorcycles. The attack happened so quickly that the warden was unable to draw his own weapon, according to the official report.

While the motive was not immediately clear, Lopez Bonilla said Coronado might have been targeted because he imposed tough disciplinary measures at El Infiernito, where the inmates include gang leaders and drug traffickers.

Guatemalan prisons tend to be dominated by powerful factions that impose their will on the other inmates.

With an average of 13.5 homicides per day, Guatemala is one of the most violent nations in Latin America. EFE