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Protesters Burn Nine Vehicles; Police Break Up Demonstration

July 22, 1988

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) _ Demonstrators protesting the reported detention of a union activist burned nine vehicles in downtown San Salvador after police fired tear gas and warning shots to disperse a protest march.

The protesters, including students and members of a leftist labor federation, also chanted slogans against proposed state of emergency legislation and demanded more government spending on education.

About 5,000 people marched from the National University through the downtown district to the headquarters of the Treasury Police in eastern San Salvador in the demonstration Thursday.

They said security forces detained Eliseo Cordoba, a social security worker and union activist, on July 12 and Treasury Police were holding him. The government has not confirmed the arrest.

Many marchers wore bandannas and carried nail-tipped wooden clubs or staves. A line of riot officers backed by police with assault rifles confronted them.

Stones were thrown or fired from slingshots, and police fired more than 100 shots into the air. Demonstrators fled and several were trampled.

Some of the marchers regrouped and went to the downtown district, where they burned the vehicles, some of which had government license plates.

The government of President Jose Napoleon Duarte has proposed legislation that would permit public utilities to be put under military control if their workers went on strike.

Emergency legislation has been passed periodically since the civil war with leftist guerrillas began in in October 1979, sometimes giving the military wide powers of search, seizure and arrest.

Human rights groups estimate more than 65,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed during the war.

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