sábado, 16 de febrero de 2013

El Salvador gangs to hand in 300 firearms

Gang members in El Salvador were to hand in 300 firearms as part of an ongoing pacification process in the country, and within a new law to regulate the voluntary handover of firearms, El Salvador's El Mundo reported, citing declarations by the Minister of Justice. The Minister David Munguía Payés said 300 firearms were to be handed in within 10 days at an unspecified place and another undated handover was being negotiated, all within the Special Transitory Law for the Voluntary Handover of Firearms, Explosives, Munitions and Similar Articles, which parliament ratified on 14 February (Ley Especial Transitoria para la Entrega Voluntaria de Armas de Fuego, Explosivos, Municiones y Artículos Similares). "The idea is to take out of circulation weapons in the hands of people who can potentially commit crimes," the minister said at an unspecied location. The country's deputy-police chief Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde stated in turn - apparently speaking with the minister - that 380 arms or "artefacts" had been decomissioned in 2013. He specified that people handing in firearms would not be prosecuted for carrying or possession of arms but that crimes committed with such weapons would be investigated. The initiative was another part of an ongoing "pacification" process in the country that includes a ceasefire between Mara gangs in force since 2012 and designation of several crime-free districts, which officials insist has reduced violent crime. Police deputy-chief Ramírez said on 15 February that police counted 290 homicides in the country in January and 15 days of February 2013, when the figure was 587 for the same period in 2012, El Mundo reported. Munguía told Radio El Salvador on 13 February that this was "the most successful process to reduce violence throughout the western hemisphere" and had made El Salvador a model of interest to other states, the Ministry of Justice reported. Crime persisted however including in designated safe areas. On 13 February police detained five presumed members of the Mara-18 gang and freed a boy they had apparently kidnapped on 11 February on the edge of the "safe" district of Quetzaltepeque, north of the capital, elsalvador.com reported. The boy had been kept in the nearby district of Nejapa; police suspected the crime was ordered from a prison where M-18 inmates are kept.

Bomb kills Colombian soldiers, rebel numbers said down

A bomb attack on 15 February by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) killed three soldiers and injured three on a road in the district of Sumapaz south of the capital Bogotá, Europa Press reported. Separately a report by the Colombian defence ministry found that almost 1,500 FARC guerrillas had been "neutralised," that is killed, arrested or demobilised since the state began a negotiations process with the FARC in September 2012. This included five commanders, El Espectador reported, citing the ministry document. The ministry report stated that of the 1,475 guerrillas neutralised since 4 September 2012, 982 had been caught, 320 had surrendered and 122 were shot dead, while it cited as unprecedented the "neutralisation" of 26 regional or district Front commanders and death of the FARC's paramount leader within a 16-month period. This was the guerrilla dubbed Alfonso Cano, killed on 4 or 5 November 2011. The ministry estimated that the FARC had shrunk from some 20,000 fighters in 2002 to about 8,000 in 2012, and the other rebel force ELN, from more than 4,000 fighters in 2002 to about 1,500, El Espectador reported.

Seven hostages freed in Colombia

Colombia's two communist rebel forces, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) freed on 15 February two policemen and five contractors they held hostage, while a mediator suggested a soldier being held by the FARC might also be released within days. The policemen were handed to over to mediators in a rural part of the district of Miranda in the south-western Cauca department, then to government envoys at a base in the district of Florida in the Valle de Cauca department, Caracol radio reported. The former senator Piedad Córdoba, to whom the policemen were initially given, was to mediate for the liberation within days of a soldier also being held by the FARC, Caracol reported. In the northern department of Bolívar, the ELN released five of six hostages they held, handing them over to the Red Cross; these were three Colombians and two Peruvians kidnapped on 18 January in the district of Norosí in the southern part of Bolívar. The ELN retained one hostage, the Canadian national Jernoc Wobert. Separately the Humanitarian Committee of Huila (Comité humanitario de Huila) affiliated to the Huila departmental government stated on 15 February that "illegal armed groups" retained 38 hostages from that department, a number it stated it had verified with relatives, Caracol reported on 15 February. They were presumably held by the FARC who are present in this part of Colombia.