SAN SALVADOR – Gunmen murdered six men in a town in southern El Salvador, National Civilian Police (PNC) chief Howard Cotto said Wednesday.
The men were killed on Tuesday night in La Paz province, Cotto said without identifying the victims or providing additional details.
Four gunmen went to the house where the victims, among them three suspected members of the MS-13 gang, were staying and tied them up before shooting them, the PNC chief said.
Investigators have identified at least two of the victims, Cotto said.
The PNC chief, however, did not say whether the killings were linked to a turf war or a purge of the MS-13.
El Salvador has recorded 1,124 murders so far in 2019, a figure that is 15 percent lower than the 1,322 murders committed in the same period last year.
The Central American country, according to police, is experiencing a spike in murders since April due to leadership shuffles and internal purges within gangs.
El Salvador is considered one of the world’s most violent countries, registering homicide rates ranging from 50.3 per 100,000 inhabitants to 103 per 100,000 inhabitants between 2015 and 2018, with the high murder rate being blamed mostly on the nation’s gangs.
Defense Minister David Munguia Payes said El Salvador was experiencing a “low intensity” conflict due to the frequent clashes between the security forces and members of criminal organizations.
Many of El Salvador’s gangs started on the streets of Los Angeles during the 1980s, with most of their members young Salvadorans whose parents fled the Central American nation’s erstwhile civil war for the United States.
Because many of the gang members were born in El Salvador, they were subject to deportation when rounded up during crackdowns in California in the 1990s.
Sent back “home” to a land they barely knew, they formed gangs in San Salvador that spread throughout the small nation and to neighboring countries in Central America.
The gangs are engaged in murder, drug dealing, kidnapping and people smuggling.