At least twenty-five people died in a spate of politically motivated violence in El Salvador on Monday and Tuesday this week (3 & 4 March).
GV & CU National Guard Headquarters guarded by armed police outside in San Salvador (3 shots)
CU Man's body lying in street as onlookers stand around (2 shots)
CU Another body in street being placed in coffin as woman onlooker weeps
CU & SV Third body lying in sheet as distraught woman watches
TV PULL BACK & PAN TO SV From armed National Guardsmen patrolling street to 3 more bodies lying in tall grass as people watch (4 shots)
SV & CU Students surrounding wounded man lying outside building and moaning on stretcher (2 shots)
CU Makeshift stretcher carried to truck
GV PAN FROM University building daubed with slogans TO Traffic jam in street
SV & CU Body of man dead at wheel of bullet riddled car (3 shots)
SV PULL BACK TO LV Burned out car
SV PAN & CU Wrecked building with holes in walls and bullet holes (4 shots)
CU Man holding exploded armament
LV PULL BACK TO GV AND CU National Guardsmen in sandbagged defensive positions overlooking town (4 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: At least twenty-five people died in a spate of politically motivated violence in El Salvador on Monday and Tuesday this week (3 & 4 March). Rightist and leftist militants have been involved in an escalating battle for power since last October when the ruling civilian-military junta took office.
SYNOPSIS: Left-wing guerrillas attacked the headquarters of the National Guard in a San Salvador suburb of Ciudad Delgado on Monday night (3 March). Members of the Peoples' Revolutionary Army claimed responsibility for the assault.
Nine people were killed in the ensuing gunbattle, and fourteen wounded. The guerrillas held streets in the suburb for much of the night, fighting from behind stone barricades. A called to a radio station shortly after the attack began claimed that roads in Ciudad Delgado had been mined and warned residents not to enter or leave the area. By early morning the guerrilla offensive had been beaten back by National Guard units.
The Peoples' Revolutionary Army is an underground organisation which first appeared in 1972. It was originally composed of disillusioned Christian Democrat and Communist youths and concentrated on exclusively military action. Over the last eight years the group has suffered numerous internal divisions. The breakaway factions have adopted differing strategies in their attempts to challenge the junta. The Popular League of February 28 (LP-28), the group responsible for several embassy and government building occupations over the last few months, is one of the groups spawned by the Popular Revolutionary Army.
Many of the anti-government political action fronts and their allies have offices at the National University in El Salvador. Two people were killed and several wounded on the University Campus on Monday night (3 March). After the attack on the National Guard headquarters, security forces cordoned off the University although they did not attempt to enter it. A two-hour gun battle broke out between left-wing students inside the University and guardsmen outside the gates.
After dawn on Tuesday (4 March) two motorists were discovered dead at the wheels of their cars along the street outside the University. Police said they had been killed by crossfire.
Another body was found in a car near the National Guard headquarters in Ciudad Delgado. Police believe he was also an innocent victim of their battle with the guerrillas.
After the security forces ninety minute battle with left-wingers in Ciudad Delgado guardsmen pursued the guerrillas in tanks and armoured cars. Police later found home-made bazookas which had been used to bomb the National Guard headquarters.
On Tuesday (4 March) thirteen more bodies were found in streets and parks in San Salvador. No group claimed responsibility for these killings but police speculated they were victims of right-wing death squads. In recent weeks there have been a number of apparently unmotivated assassinations in El Salvador which are attributed to a struggle between left and right wing forces seeking to gain control of the country.