lunes, 3 de marzo de 2014

Police shoot five kidnappers in northern Honduras

Honduran Police and troops shot dead five suspects identified as members of the Mara 18 gang on 2 March, in an operation to rescue three individuals held in a building in the San Pedro Sula. The suspects opened fire as they noticed agents approaching the safe house, and were later shot inside, the daily Tiempo reported. One gang member was arrested. A police spokesman was cited as saying that the shootout occurred in an area where police had in preceding days recovered several houses "confiscated" by gangs. Gangs often force people off properties and use their homes as hideouts, in Honduras and other Central American countries. Authorities earlier reported they had recovered 50 buildings or homes in operations in late February in the Rivera Hernández sector and other neighborhoods of San Pedro Sula, La Prensa reported on 1 March. The daily cited a city police commander as saying that depriving criminals of these safe houses and street patrols had considerably reduced murders, though it was not immediately clear if in these neighborhoods or in San Pedro Sula, one of the world's most violent cities.

Anti-Government protests continue in Venezuela

Anti-Government unrest continued in Venezuela on 3 March, as media placed the death toll from the intermittent protests that began on 12 February at 18. On 2 March, students organised a large march in Caracas, with protesters marching from four points toward the Plaza Luis Brión in Chacaíto, a district that has become a favoured spot and "stronghold" of Government opponents, Spain's El País reported on 3 March. Eighteen people were reported injured in that protest, according to the broadcaster Globovisión. Another march was convened for 3 March, and demonstrators were shown that day gathering or moving from the capital's Plaza Alfredo Sadel toward the seat of the Organisation of American States (OAS). The recurring theme of such protests has been to denounce high crime rates, government mismanagement of the economy and increasingly the "arbitrary" arrests of demonstrators. Marchers reportedly included the mayor of the Caracas Metropolitan District Antonio Ledezma and Lilian Tintori, wife of the detained opposition politician Leopoldo López; a "document" was to be presented to the OAS office later. Globovisión put at 970 the number of protesters arrested apparently since 12 February, with 34 still in custody on 3 March. It cited a lawyer for the NGO Foro Penal Venezolano as saying that in this time there had been "33 verified cases of torture" of detainees, duly reported to the authorities. The Foro's Alfredo Romero told the broadcaster "we know there are more, but the people concerned were afraid to report them."

Police observe steady rise in killings in El Salvador in 2014

Media in El Salvador reported a year-on-year increase in homicides in the first two months of 2014, with shorter February seeing more murders than January. The website elsalvador.com cited the National Police as counting 472 murders nationwide from 1 January to 26 February, 93 more than the figure of 369 cited for that period in 2013. La Prensa Gráfica reported similar figures on 1 March; Police it stated, counted 474 homicides in January and all of February, compared to 380 counted for the same period in 2013. Police observed a 29 per cent increase in February homicides, counting 238 criminal killings from 1 to 28 February, 54 more than in February 2013, La Prensa Gráfica reported. The pace appeared to continue in March. El Salvador's El Mundo reported 13 criminal killings nationwide on 1 March. Police attributed some of these to vendettas between the two main gangs, MS-13 and Mara 18, as it did many of the killings in February. These and similar reports in recent months were likely fuelling doubts about the continuation of the gangs ceasefire that began in March 2012, which officials have touted as having drastically curbed violence nationwide. The recent increase had yet to reach the homicide rates the country had before the 2012 ceasefire.

Colombian authorities capture, shoot guerrillas, crime suspects

Colombian authorities reported the shooting death and captures in different operations of at least three guerrillas of the country's two communist rebel forces, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). A FARC guerilla dubbed River, identified as deputy-head of the FARC's Front 29, was shot dead in fighting on 27 February, at an unspecified location, El Colombiano reported, citing the Army. He was described as previously active in the south-western department of NariñoThe same daily reported the arrest early on 3 March of another suspected FARC guerrilla, a man dubbed El Gordo, suspected to have planned a bomb attack on 25 February in Quibdó, capital of the department of Chocó, which killed four or five and injured dozens of people. A bomb was placed in a supermarket then, though the FARC declared it was not their doing. Police identified the suspect as head of FARC Front 34's back-up network in Quibdó; he was reportedly already sought in relation with two cases of theft and armed theft, El Colombiano reported. A suspected bomb attack attributed to the FARC's Front 36 injured three soldiers on 2 March in the town of Briceño in Antioquia. An explosive was detonated then as an army van or convoy drove past the town hospital, El Colombiano reported. Troops separately caught an ELN captain in fighting in the district of Santa Rosa in BolívarRadio Santa Fe reported on 28 February. The fighter, a man dubbed Marcos Embalado and identified as head of the ELN's Heroes and Martyrs of the Santa Rosa Front, was injured, then detained, after "intensive fighting." He was sought for his suspected role in killings of at least five state agents. In the north-eastern district of Cúcuta, police detained 22 suspected drug traffickers and extortionists in raids around the district, El Espectador reported on 1 March.