Officials said that gunmen attacked a group of people playing football in a poor area of the city [AFP]

Unknown gunmen have attacked a group of people playing football in northern Honduras, killing at least fourteen people.

Armando Calidonio, Honduras's vice-minister for security, said that around five attackers armed with assualt rifles pulled up in a car at the football field in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, where they shot the victims at point blank range before fleeing.

Calidonio said 10 people died at the scene and another four died en route to hospital. Others were wounded, some seriously, he added.

The attack took place in a poor neighbourhood of the city known for being home to hundreds of gang members with a reputation for violence. 

Calidonio said authorities thought the massacre could be a case of score settling between criminals but did not offer more details.

Mass shootings are not uncommon in Honduras.  Steet gangs, known as "Maras'', are blamed for rampant violent crime, extortion and more recently acting as enforcers for drug cartels.

In September, gunmen killed 18 shoe factory employees in San Pedro Sula in a shooting blamed on gang rivalries.

Six youths were slain in a home last month, also in San Pedro Sula. Authorities linked that massacre to the drug trade.

Honduras is on track to finish the year with the world's highest murder rate, with a rate of 78.8 per 100,000 people, according to a report by the government human rights ombusdman.

Source: Agencies