Gangland killings in El Salvador reach fever pitch | News | DW | 20.08.2015
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Gangland killings in El Salvador reach fever pitch

More than 100 have been killed this week as turf wars between rival gangs plague capital. The government has refused to sit down with organized crime leaders to negotiate truce.

A wave of killings has claimed at least 125 lives in the small Central American country in the past several days, authorities said Wednesday.

Authorities in El Salvador say drug gang leaders are trying to pressure the government to sit down to negotiate a ceasefire similar to the 2012 truce that stopped the bloodletting but has since fallen apart.

"They want to exert some pressure and for the government to grant some of the things they are asking for," Justice and Public Safety Minister Benito Lara, told the AFP news agency.

But the government has vowed not to negotiate with criminals or give in to gang demands that their leaders be transferred out of a maximum-security prison.

Meanwhile, law enforcement officials say the killings are continuing unabated. Some 42 were killed Monday and 43 on Tuesday, most of them in gang-related bloodshed.

"These are worrisome numbers," National Police chief Mauricio Ramirez told reporters. "These are Salvadorans who are dying. Regardless of who is a gang member or not."

Government statistics report 3,332 murders between January and June, up from 2,191 a year earlier. Authorities say 2015 is on track to be the bloodiest since the days of El Salvador's civil war that ended in 1992.

The gangs - most of which are connected to the lucrative drug trade - have some 72,000 members including 13,000 in detention in a country of six million people.

jar/jil (AFP, AP)