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El Salvador declares state of emergency after 62 killings in one day attributed to gangs

At the scene of a homicide in Colon, Salvador, Saturday, March 26, 2022.

The Parliament of El Salvador, at the request of the President, Nayib Bukele, approved, on Sunday March 27, the establishment of a state of emergency for a period of one month, in an attempt to stem the violence of criminal gangs , accused of having committed 62 murders in twenty-four hours.

The decree, approved by a large majority in parliament, restricts freedom of assembly, the inviolability of correspondence and communications, and authorizes arrests without a warrant.

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According to the Salvadoran Constitution, a state of emergency can be put in place “in case of war, invasion of territory, rebellion, sedition, catastrophe, epidemic or other general calamity, or serious disturbance of public order”.

“Since yesterday, we have seen a new rebound in homicides, something we have been working so hard against. While fighting the criminals on the streets, we try to decipher what is happening and who is behind and funds all of this”said Mr. Bukele, who called a crisis meeting of security officials.

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The head of state asked the prosecutor’s office to deal with the same “efficiency” all cases of gang members, warning that he would keep an eye out for “judges who favor criminals”.

“This Saturday March 26 ended with 62 homicides in the country”announced the National Civil Police on Twitter. “We will not back down in this war on gangs, we will not stop capturing and bringing to justice the criminals responsible for these acts”she added.

70,000 members of the Mara Salvatrucha in El Salvador

El Salvador’s police and army on Saturday launched an operation against the Mara Salvatrucha, one of the country’s most dangerous gangs. Several leaders of the gang have been arrested and are charged with being “responsible for the homicides recorded in recent hours”explained the police.

The Mara Salvatrucha, Barrio 18 and other gangs, living mainly on drug trafficking and extortion, have a total of about 70,000 members in El Salvador, of whom more than 17,000 are incarcerated, according to authorities.

El Salvador recorded 1,140 homicides in 2021 – or 18 per 100,000 inhabitants – the lowest figure since the end of the civil war in 1992.

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The World with AFP

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