President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes.
El Salvador, Latin America: Week in Review

Street Gangs Attack Two Buses in El Salvador; At Least 16 People Dead

June 22, 2010 By Staff
President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes.

President of El Salvador Mauricio Funes.

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Street gangs in El Salvador attacked two passenger buses, killing at least 16 people in an attack that Salvadoran Security Minister Manuel Melgar called “an act of terrorism”.

The gangs sprayed the side of one bus and doused the other in gasoline before igniting it in a crowded San Salvador neighborhood.

The attacks are seen as part of a rise in street violence in El Salvador, attributed to street gangs but also the presence of drug traffickers in the country. Street gangs have been demanding protection money from bus companies and drug traffickers allegedly hire gang members for criminal acts, according to Salvadoran police.

“This is an act that seeks to generate terror among the population,” said El Salvador’s president Mauricio Funes, according to the Associated Press. “The police are on top of this. We have made seven arrests, and among those captured are the perpetrators and perhaps the masterminds.”

According to the BBC, a Salvadoran police investigator said that two rival gangs were fighting for control of the San Salvador neighborhood. “The Mara Salvatrucha gang wanted to extort money from this bus company, but the company was already being extorted by the 18th Street Gang and told them they couldn’t pay off two gangs, and that’s how this butchery started,” he said.

El Salvador has the highest murder rate in Central America and one of the highest throughout Latin America, according to the United Nation.

Just Published at the Latin America News Dispatch

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Image: Presidencia de la República del Ecuador @ Flickr.

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