El Salvador deploys 10,000 troops to capital suburb in massive gang crackdown

The president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, announced late Sunday night that “more than 140 gang members” had been arrested on the outskirts of the country's capital of San Salvador after he sent thousands more troops in.

The government of the Central American country on Saturday sent 10,000 soldiers and police to seal off Soyapango, one of the most dangerous cities in the country, due to the presence of the so-called "maras,” or gangs.

"The municipality of Soyapango, the most populated in our country, has been totally surrounded since early yesterday morning," Bukele wrote on Twitter. "In less than 48 hours, more than 140 gang members have been arrested."

Security personnel were deployed to the city, located just over 12 kilometers (7.4 miles) from the capital San Salvador, to arrest gang members who have not yet been captured and to continue the "war against gangs."

“As of this moment, the municipality of Soyapango is totally surrounded,” Bukele said early morning on Saturday.

Human rights groups have raised concern about abuses by security authorities against alleged gang members in El Salvador.

Bukele’s government declared a state of emergency on March 27 after three days of violence left 87 dead, which Bukele blamed on the gang known as MS-13.

The president asked Congress to grant him extraordinary powers to declare a state of emergency, which has been renewed every month since March. The decree suspends some constitutional rights and gives the police more powers to arrest and detain suspects.

More than 56,000 people have been detained and some have reportedly been subjected to rights violations, according to monitors.

Rene Merino Monroy, the defense minister, defended the government "siege" of the city, saying that “it will not affect the honest population" but will "respect human rights."

In recent decades, the history of El Salvador has been marked by gang violence, reaching one of the highest homicide and crime rates in the world.

Source: Anadolu Agency