El Salvador deploys 10,000 troops in a suburb dominated by Mara Salvatrucha

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele announced this Saturday the deployment of 10,000 members of the security forces in a troubled suburb of San Salvador, which for years has been considered a stronghold of the violent Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs.

The operation in the Soyapango municipality, in the eastern part of the capital’s metropolitan area, is the latest escalation in a crusade that began in March against gang groups that, according to human rights specialists, has been marred by unjustified detentions.

“Soyapango is totally surrounded,” the president wrote during the early hours of the morning on his Twitter account. “8,500 soldiers and 1,500 agents have surrounded the city, while police and army extraction teams They are in charge of taking out one by one all the gang members who are still there“.

Government spokesmen declined to comment on the deployment in the area, which It is home to some 300,000 inhabitants and has historically been considered an impregnable territory. for law enforcement.

Images published by the official press showed the troops carrying heavy-caliber weaponshelmets and bulletproof vests, accompanied by war vehicles while they toured the streets of the municipality, in the middle of the night.

Since he began his plan to combat gangs, Bukele has ordered the arrest of more than 50,000 alleged gang memberswhom it describes as terrorists, while at the same time it has denied basic procedural rights to those apprehended.

The campaign aims to reduce the Central American country’s homicide rate to less than two a day, after dozens of Salvadorans died in a single weekend in March.