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Salvadoran troops encircle second community in gangs crackdown

#Salvadoran #troops #encircle #community #gangs #crackdown

More than 1,000 soldiers surrounded a community in El Salvador’s capital on Saturday as part of President Nayib Bukele’s war on gangs, the second such operation this month in the Central American country. 

“As of this morning, the Tutunichapa community in San Salvador is totally surrounded,” Bukele posted on Twitter.  

“More than 1,000 soldiers and 130 police officers will extract the criminals who still remain in this community, famous for drug trafficking,” he added.

Authorities in Tutunichapa, a populous neighbourhood of San Salvador, reported the first six arrests of “delinquents” without specifying whether they were accused of being gang members or drug traffickers, according to the presidential palace. 

“All terrorists, drug traffickers and gang members will be removed from this community, which until a few months ago was a bastion of crime. Honest citizens have nothing to fear and can continue to live their lives normally,” Bukele said in another tweet.

Earlier this month Bukele, who has declared a state of emergency to quash gang violence, sent 8,500 soldiers and 1,500 police officers to surround Soyapango, the country’s third largest city. 

The president had announced last month a plan to use troops to surround cities while house-by-house searches are conducted for gang members. Soyapango was first on the list.

The siege there has seen armored military vehicles, some with artillery, carrying out constant patrols while heavily armed police search houses and people as they leave their neighborhoods, as well as random searches of public transport.

As of December 15, some 500 suspected gang members had been arrested in Soyapango, according to the latest government figures. 

Almost 60,000 suspected gang members have been arrested since the launch of the state of emergency in March, which has prompted humanitarian groups to question what they see as heavy-handed tactics.

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