14 gang members killed in El Salvador prison violence

Violence between gangs kill at least 14 inmates at El Salvador prison

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Members of Barrio 18 gang in the prison of Quezaltepeque are seen in the image.

At least 14 inmates at an El Salvador prison have been killed, when violence erupted between two factions of a notorious gang on Saturday, the authorities have said.

The killings are linked to an internal dispute involving the Barrio 18 gang in Quezaltepeque prison, some 25 km (16 miles) northwest of the capital San Salvador, a spokesman for the presidency told AFP.

Security agents and riot police found the bodies of the victims among some garbage bins, "attacks are believed to be a purge within the gang" said Eugenio Chicas, the communications secretary for the presidency.

The correctional facility holds around 1,000 inmates, who authorities said were all members of the Barrio 18 gang.

The prison authorities and police have launched an investigation into the incident. 

The deaths in the prison reveal how gang violence has made El Salvador one of the most dangerous countries in the world.

On Wednesday, the police said there were at least 125 murders in just three days, a staggering number even for El Salvador.

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

Last month, Barrio 18 ordered a bus strike and seven bus drivers were killed after they defied the gang.

Criminal gangs have been pressuring the government to include them in the commission examining ways to stem endemic urban violence, for which these same groups, are to a large extent, responsible.

President Salvador Sanchez Ceren has tried to crack down on crime in the country since he took office and has refused to negotiate with the gangs.

Violence in El Salvador has increased over the past year after a 2012 truce between the Barrio 18 and rival gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) started to unravel.

So far this year, about 3,840 homicides had been committed in El Salvador, a number just short of the tally for all of 2014.


TRTWorld and agencies