El Salvador sees a 600% increase in murders of police and soldiers

During 2017, El Salvador has seen a dramatic increase in the killing of members of the police and armed forces.   Through September 23, there have been 29 police agents killed, 13 members of the armed forces, and 2 prison guards, according to statistics from Justice and Security Minister, Mauricio Ramírez Landaverde.   This is a dramatic 600% increase from 2016, when only 4 police and three soldiers had been killed through the end of August.  The numbers do not include family members of police and soldiers who have also been targeted.   The surge in killings of security force members comes at a time when the overall homicide rate has been cut almost in half.

These killings have lead to calls from the PDDH and others for greater protection for elements of the police and armed forces.  

The murders are almost certainly committed primarily by gangs in the country and could represent reprisals in response to the harsh tactics implemented by the government as part of its "exceptional measures" in fighting the gangs.     It also appears that murders of police are prompting instances of extra-judicial killings where security forces decide to mete out swift, vengeful justice rather than arrests and legal proceedings.

It is a cycle of violence and counter-violence from which El Salvador has not found an exit.