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  • A suspected gang member is seen being arrested in Soyapango, El Salvador, March 31, 2016.

    A suspected gang member is seen being arrested in Soyapango, El Salvador, March 31, 2016. | Photo: Reuters

The government called on political parties to refrain from making ties with the gangs, in the wake of upcoming elections.

Authorities in El Salvador arrested nearly 100 suspects in an anti-gang raid Thursday, in the municipalities of San Jose Villanueva and Zaragoza.

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The National Civil Police and the Attorney General of the Republic, in the Salvadoran department of La Libertad, issued arrest warrants against those suspected of committing the crimes of homicide, deprivation of liberty, aggravated rape and terrorist organization.

Shortly after the arrests were made, the Salvadoran Ministry of Justice and Security issued a warning, calling on political parties to refrain from making ties with the gangs, in the wake of elections that are to take place next March.

Mauricio Ramirez Landaverde, the minister of the sector, reiterated that such ties seek to undermine democracy in the country.

The message was likely aimed at the right-wing Arena party, which has links to gangs in the Apopa and Usulutan regions.

El Salvador's homicide rate improved slightly last year after rising to 100 killings per 100,000 residents — but still remains one of the highest in the world.

As violence there continues to escalate, U.S. President Donald Trump has suspended the Central American Minors program that allowed vulnerable children fleeing violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to apply for refugee status in the United States before leaving home.


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