QUEZALTEPEQUE, El Salvador, Aug. 24 (UPI) — At least 14 members of the Barrio 18 gang were killed in a prison in Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, presumably in an “act of purification” as part of an “internal purge.”
The bodies of the men were discovered in two separate locations during a routine inspection of the prison, according to BBC News. An investigation has been launched by police and prison authorities.
The Directorate General of Prisons in El Salvador said the killings are “presumed to be an act of purification among gang members.”
Crimes committed by the slain gang members include murder, extortion, possession of firearms, conspiracy to commit murder, among others, according to prison officials.
El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, largely caused by the warring Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs. More than 2,000 people have died this year.
There were at least 125 murders within three days in El Salvador, police announced Wednesday. El Salvador has a population of about 6.3 million.
In late July, at least six public bus drivers in El Salvador were killed by gangs attempting to pressure the government to give into demands for a truce by spreading fear.
Two imprisoned leaders of the Barrio 18 gang, identified as Carlos Eduardo Burgos Nuila and Jose Carlos Hernandez Mauricio, called for a three-day strike of public transportation to pressure the government to negotiate with gangs for a truce.
When bus drivers refused to give in to the gang’s demands, drivers were targeted and killed.