viernes, 27 de diciembre de 2013

Almost 20 killed across El Salvador over Christmas

Drunken brawls and gang fights were responsible for most of the 14 violent deaths reported around El Salvador on Christmas Day and the five reported for Christmas Eve, the Salvadorean daily El Mundo reported on 26 December, citing a police report. The daily observed that about five had been killed on Christmas Eve 2012, but gave no comparative figure for Christmas Day that year. Officials were reporting a fall in killings about this time last year, so 14 may have been an increase. The website cited a crime expert Carlos Ponce as saying that a recent increase in killings in the country could be a strategy by the Mara street gangs to strengthen their position before hypothetical negotiations with the state. The gangs are ostensibly in a ceasefire since March 2012, though certain public figures and observers have doubted its existence or called it a sham, while others have speculated it may have broken down in recent months, hence an increase in killings. Ponce warned an increase in killings attributed to gangs might be intended to help obtain "a strategic alliance" with one or other of the candidates ahead of presidential elections set for February 2014. "The current government is increasingly less attractive to negotiate with, and less important. As elections approach, they are more interested in identifying how they can transfer the negotiation they have started with this administration to the next one. None of the political parties here are immune to the gangsters' efforts," he said. The negotiations he said were to "maintain the benefits" they had obtained from the current government, led by President Mauricio Funes, in return for their ceasefire. The Government has denied it has negotiated anything with the gangs and insisted it was not involved in the ceasefire.

Colombian troops shoot 10 guerrillas, hold five

Colombia's Minister of Defence Juan Carlos Pinzón Bueno announced that troops shot dead on 26 December 10 guerrillas of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including their "chief extortionist" in central Colombia, media reported on 26 December. The guerrilla dubbed Jhon 26 was described as a captain in Front 53 of the FARC's Eastern Block and coordinator of extortions in the central and eastern departments of Cundinamarca and Meta, where he was shot, El Colombiano reported. Caracol radio described him as responsible for extortions and kidnappings of businessmen, shopkeepers and farmers in the two departments, and "successful" enough to have turned Front 53 into "one of the main income generators" for the Eastern Block. The same day troops detained five guerrillas of the smaller National Liberation Army (ELN) including a commander, after a shootout in the district of Simití in the northern department of Bolívar, El Colombiano reported, citing the Army. The detained were identified as the deputy-head of the Heroes and Martyrs of Santa Rosa Front, a man dubbed Nelson, and four suspected fighters including an 18-year-old and a child or teenager who was handed over to welfare authorities. Nelson was reportedly sought for his alleged role in bombings and extortions in the southern part of Bolívar.