El Salvador President deploys 10,000 troops to fight gang

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El Salvador President deploys 10,000 troops to fight gang

SAN SALVADOR -- El Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele announced yesterday the deployment of 10,000 security forces to a suburb of San Salvador known as a stronghold for gangs.

Human rights groups say that the move is the latest in a crusade against gang violence that began in March.

The president wrote on Twitter early Saturday that Soyapango is completely surrounded by the community in the eastern part of the capital, which is known to be a stronghold of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs.

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He said 8,500 soldiers and 1,500 agents have been surrounded the city, while extraction teams from the police and army are tasked with extricating all the gang members who are still there. Government representatives didn't want to say anything about the deployment.

Images of troops carrying heavy weapons, helmets and bulletproof vests, traveling in war vehicles, were released by the government. The municipality has a population of around 300,000 and was previously considered impregnable for law enforcement.

Since he began his plan to combat gangs, Bukele has ordered the arrest of more than 50,000 alleged gang members, whom he describes as terrorists.

Hundreds of Salvadorans were killed in a single weekend in March, and the plan aims to reduce the Central American country's homicide rate to less than two a day.