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El Salvador sends troops to gang-run capital suburb

STORY: The move is the latest escalation in a crusade against gang violence that began in March, which human rights groups say has been marred by unjustified detentions.

"Soyapango is totally surrounded," the president wrote on Twitter early Saturday, referring to the municipality in the eastern part of the capital region known to be a stronghold of the Mara Salvatrucha and Barrio 18 gangs.

Bukele tweeted that 8,500 soldiers and 1,500 agents had surrounded the city.

Government representatives declined to comment on the deployment in the municipality, which has a population of about 300,000 and was previously considered impregnable for law enforcement.

Since he began his plan to combat gangs, Bukele has ordered the arrest of more than 50,000 alleged gang members, whom he describes as terrorists and has denied basic procedural rights to.

The plan aims to reduce the Central American country's homicide rate to fewer than two a day, after dozens of Salvadorans were killed in a single weekend in March.