Gang members killed two people and three others here Friday in attacks on bus drivers who failed to pay protection money, Guatemalan police said.

The assaults occurred early Friday at the expiration of the deadline set by the gangs for transit operators to pay up, police spokesman Pablo Castillo told reporters.

In the Ciudad Quetzal neighborhood, gunmen on motorcycles opened fired on bus drivers gathered at an eatery for breakfast.

One driver died of his injuries at a hospital and two others are in serious condition, Castillo said.

Another driver was gunned down in a nearly simultaneous incident in the capital's Belen neighborhood, but the suspected shooter was apprehended within minutes.

The suspect, a 20-year-old suspected gang member identified as Luis Caceres, told the press he shot the driver because the latter had run into his aunt with the bus.

Police, however, said Friday's shootings were linked to the gangs' protection racket targeting transit operators.

Security forces have initiated operations to "neutralize" the criminals and ensure the safety of bus drivers and passengers, national police director Telemaco Perez said.

Attacks on buses and bus companies have claimed 167 lives so far this year, according to figures from the office of Guatemala's national ombud. EFE