Question and Answer Series: El Salvador: Re-Emergence of 'Social Cleansing' Death Squads [open pdf - 34KB]
"From December 1998 through January 1999 there were at least a dozen extrajudicial killings which pointed to a resurgence of activities by paramilitary death squads that target marginalized social sectors. All of those killed were members of maras, youth gangs, and the modus operandi was very similar to the spate of 'social cleansing' executions carried out by the Sombra Negra, Black Shadow, organization in 1994-1995. Amid the recent wave of killings, public threats against gang members were issued by two previously unknown organizations: the Grupo de Exterminio, Extermination Group, and La Voz del Pueblo, The Voice of the People. Salvadoran police officials suggested that the killings were the result of internecine gang warfare. But a public prosecutor who worked on the Sombra Negra case, as well as Salvadoran human rights organizations and the Catholic church, were convinced that the murders had been carried out by one or more armed clandestine groups. Youth gangs themselves alleged that members of the Policía Nacional Civil (PNC), National Civilian Police, were involved, as had been the case with Sombra Negra, but as of early March 1999 there was no evidence of that."
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