El Salvador gangs urge new president to tackle violence

SAN SALVADOR, (Reuters) – The heads of El Salvador’s main street gangs urged the country’s new president Salvador Sanchez Ceren to tackle criminals behind a recent wave of killings, declaring themselves blameless on Thursday for the violence gripping the Central American nation.

The leaders of five gangs known as maras, including the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and its rival Barrio 18, blamed criminal groups trying to create instability in El Salvador to justify death squads they said were attacking their members.

“We hope the new government will take a firm stand against these groups,” the gangs said in a statement issued by a group of churches who are backing a 2012 truce signed by the maras.

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