Crime & Justice

Salvadoran AG: Avoid violence after shootout kills 2 opposition members

San Salvador, Feb 1 (efe-epa).- Salvadoran Attorney General Raul Melara said Monday that the investigation into the armed attack on Sunday that killed two and wounded five other people with the leftist opposition Farabundo Marti Front for National Liberation (FMLN) is continuing and he once again called on the public to avoid violence before and during the Feb. 28 elections.

Melara held an urgent meeting on Monday with representatives of most of the country’s political parties that will participate in the coming legislative and municipal elections after the shootout Sunday night.

Not attending the meeting were representatives of the New Ideas party founded by a movement supporting President Nayib Bukele – and headed by a cousin of his – that is expected to win the majority of legislative seats in the upcoming vote.

After the meeting, the AG said at a press conference that the politicians expressed to him their concerns over the attack and called on him to undertake a thorough investigation to track down and apprehend those responsible for the deed.

Melara said that during the meeting, from which the press was barred, “signing a non-aggression and non-violence accord was discussed that could involve the international community, the Catholic Church and the three branches of the state.”

“We must not allow violence to increase because we’re facing an election that is critically important for the country … I am emphatic in saying that we’re not going to allow any violent acts in the country, we’re not going to allow … the Feb. 28 elections to be tarnished.”

He said that the authorities will work to “double or triple, if possible, the presence of election prosecutors (at the voting centers) to unequivocally guarantee the popular will.”

Melara said that there is still no clear version of the attack staged near one of the FMLN offices in San Salvador.

“We cannot provide a version (of the deed) because we’re still checking … There are many allegations about which we cannot give any statement but rather we must have the concrete facts to be able, later, to make the indictments in accord with what happened,” he said when questioned by reporters.

The authorities have arrested at least three suspects in the shootout, although no clarification of whether the attack came for political or social reasons has been forthcoming.

One of the alleged attackers is a member of the VIP Protection Division within the police and is assigned to the Health Ministry, Melara confirmed.

He said that “to make indictments in court we need to have the full scenario and … we don’t have it yet. The only thing we know is that there are people who lost their lives, who are injured and there are firearms involved, and so we must gather all the evidence to be able to act.”

Two members of Doctors Without Borders were also attacked by a group of armed individuals on Sunday, leading the humanitarian organization to temporarily suspend its activities in El Salvador.

The president of the Legislative Assembly, Mario Ponce, met on Monday with members of that body’s Policy Committee and after several hours they agreed to issue a public pronouncement on the attack against the FMLN supporters.

In the document, authorities condemn the attack and call on the Organization of American States and the European Union to quickly send observer missions to the Central American country within the framework of the Feb. 28 elections.

In addition, the officials urged the international community to “keep its eyes on El Salvador” and for the United Nations to keep its attention focused on the matter and “to support, if required, the investigation of the deeds.”

The pronouncement will be debated in the full legislative assembly on Wednesday during this week’s regular session and will then be put to a vote by lawmakers.

The rightist Great Alliance for National Unity (GANA) party, via which Bukele ascended to the presidency, will not vote for the pronouncement, it was announced.


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