On Sunday, February 11th, 2018, possible gang violence rang out on the Highway to the Port of La Libertad a little over 1/2 mile from COAR. Two policemen from Santa Tecla had come across an abandoned vehicle on the highway and opened the doors to investigate. As soon as they opened the door, the car exploded wounding both men. The car had been reported stolen on February 7th from another town in the state of Libertad.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents from the USA happened to be in El Salvador and offered to help. Police released initial reports that there were two explosions. There was definitely a detonator attached to some sort of C4 device.
Police do not know the true motive behind this explosion yet. In the past year, gangs have begun targeting, more directly, body guards and police officers. So, there is some question whether this was a trap laid for the police or whether it was political in nature since Salvadoran elections are less than a month away.
What we do know is that the good people of El Salvador confront extreme poverty and gang violence on a daily basis. The Diocese of Cleveland has been in solidarity with the people of El Salvador and the Archdiocese of San Salvador for over 50 years. We pray that this was an isolated matter and not a new technique to intimidate law enforcement’s efforts to stop gang violence and extortion.