The number of reported massacres in El Salvador appear to have risen significantly, again raising the question of whether this is primarily the result of gang-on-gang violence or whether there are other factors at play.
Citing figures from El Salvador’s National Civil Police (PNC), La Prensa Grafica reported that the number of “multiple homicide” cases, involving three or more victims, has risen to 83 in 2015.
According to La Prensa Grafica, there have been 57 triple homicides in 2015 thus far, compared to 23 triple homicides in 2014. In total, police statistics show that thus far in 2015, there were 370 cases that involved more than two homicide victims, compared to 196 such cases in 2014, the newspaper reported.
Public transport violence has also grown significantly in the past year, according to a recent report by El Diario de Hoy. There have been 129 killings involving bus drivers, passengers, and others in 2015 thus far. The number of public transport employees killed has increased from 64 in 2014 to 79 in 2015.
This increase in massacres and public transport killings has helped contribute to record-breaking levels of violence in El Salvador. There were 907 reported homicides in August, the highest since El Salvador’s civil war, which ended in 1992.
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Gang-on-gang violence, police-gang confrontations, and perhaps even the existence of mysterious death squads have all contributed to El Salvador’s rise in homicides. However, lack of government resources means the majority of these deaths are not fully investigated.
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There have been conflicting accounts over whether the majority of homicide victims are linked to El Salvador’s gangs or not. Adding to the confusion, there are documented cases of the police using excessive force during their operations, indiscriminately killing criminal suspects rather than following proper procedures.
There is also evidence of gang members aggressively targeting those linked to the security forces and the government. One alleged gang leader, recently taken into custody, stands accused of a triple homicide: the father and two children of a police officer. The gangs have also been blamed for planting explosives near police stations and other government buildings.