Aerial view of the Panama Canal next to Gatun LakeImage copyright
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A file photo aerial view of the Panama Canal next to Gatun Lake

Police in Panama are investigating the deaths of seven young people whose bodies were found in a wooded area near a lake on Saturday.

The victims – four women and three men aged between 17 and 22 – were found near Gatun Lake, 50 miles (80km) north of the capital, Panama City.

They had been in a group of 14 making a trip to the lake. The seven who escaped said two armed men had attacked them.

One person has been arrested, according to the public prosecutor’s office.

The group of 14 had left on Friday to walk to the lake, news agency Efe reported.

Some of the victims had injuries consistent with gunshot wounds, homicide prosecutor Adolfo Pineda told reporters.

“It really is a shocking occurrence from all points of view,” he said.

The motive for the attack has yet to be determined. Authorities were searching the area where the bodies had been discovered.

Five of the bodies were reportedly found in a refugio, or shelter, on the shores of the lake, and the two others outside.

Local media reported that some of the victims’ family members had alerted police that they were missing on Friday.

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