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Salvadoran govt: Gang truce hasn’t worked

April 7, 2014

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — The government of El Salvador said Monday that the truce between the country’s main Mara street gangs hasn’t worked, and that killings and attacks against police have risen again.

The pacts between the Mara Salvatrucha and the rival Mara 18 gang had been widely hailed as a success in cutting homicide rates almost in half. But the Public Safety and Justice Ministry said in a statement published Monday in newspapers that the gangs have increased their violence and adopted a policy of attacking law enforcement officers.

“The National Police force has received information and evidence that the gangs have increased their criminal acts,” according to the ministry statement. “Some groups within the gangs have instructions to directly attack police, military personnel and public servants, with the aim of putting pressure on the incoming administration” of President-elect Salvador Sanchez Ceren, who is scheduled to take office in June.

Miguel Fortin, the director of the country’s forensics institute, said earlier that “the pact has never worked,” because the gangs’ behavior hasn’t changed.

Since the first pacts between the gangs took effect in March 2012, homicides dropped from 12 per day in 2011 to an average of 6.8 per day in 2013.

But in the first three months of 2014, the rate spiked again, to about 8.9 killings per day.

In the first three months of the year, up to April 7, there were 47 attacks on police in El Salvador, up from 30 in the same period of 2013.

An estimated 20,000 Salvadorans belong to street gangs that deal drugs and extort businesses. Leaders of the gangs have told reporters that negotiations mediated by the head chaplain of the Salvadoran army and police led to the deal halting the battles over territory.

Update hourly