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Police Break Up Demonstration; Nine Vehicles Set Afire

July 21, 1988

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) _ Police fired warning shots and tear gas to disperse a protest march on Thursday, but some demonstrators regrouped and burned at least nine vehicles in downtown San Salvador.

Students and members of a leftist labor federation joined in a march demanding more government spending on education.

Demonstrators, some carrying banners, also chanted slogans against proposed state-of-emergency legislation and for the release of a union member said to have been arrested last week.

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

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

Many marchers were masked with bandannas and carried nail-tipped wooden clubs or staves, and faced off with line of riot officers backed by police with assault rifles.

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 then regrouped and went to the downtown district, where they burned the vehicles, some of which had government license plates. President Jose Napoleon Duarte government 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 nearly nine years ago, 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 since the war began in October 1979.

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