May was one of the most violent months in El Salvador since the end of the nation’s civil war in 1992, The Associated Press reports. In a country of just over six million people, 635 homicides were reported last month; June is already set to break that mark.
The increasing instability could be related to the breakdown of a truce between gangs and the government. Last January, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren launched a crackdown on gangs by moving leaders into maximum-security cells, where they were no longer able to run criminal operations remotely. As a result, the streets were turned over to younger, more reckless gang members.
"You take away the mature leadership, and you get a structure that is made up of younger, fanatical people who want to make a name for themselves," Raul Mijango, a former guerrilla and a facilitator of the truce, told AP. "They want war."
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From 1979 to 1992, more than 75,000 civilians died in the Salvadoran Civil War with additional untold numbers “disappearing” across the country at the hands of government forces.
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