El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele ordered a total of 8,000 security officers to surround the central department of Cabañas to "prevent the outflow of gang members and cut off all supply lines of terrorist groups."
Cabañas dawned on Tuesday, August 2, surrounded by 7,000 soldiers and 1,000 police officers who surrounded the entrances and exits as part of Bukele's anti-gang war policy.
According to the president, the Salvadoran department "has become the place with the highest number of terrorist cells, which have arrived there looking for its rural areas to hide."
The president warned that the military and police siege will remain in place as long as the operations "can extract all the gang members." This massive fence "further guarantees the security of the area" and insisted that "we will not lift it until we find all the criminals," Bukele said. The president said that visitors and tourists in this department can be "calm and carry out their activities normally.
As of this morning in El Salvador, 7,000 soldiers and 1,000 police have established a security blockade around the entire region of Cabañas— Jack Poso ���� (@JackPosobiec) August 3, 2023
Their job will be to prevent gang members from leaving and cut off all supply lines for terrorists until all have been found and arrested pic.twitter.com/xZtPKNlWzz
The director and general commissioner of the National Civil Police of El Salvador, Mauricio Arriaza Chicas, said that the operations they are deploying in Cabañas against gang members include the revision of all rural, wooded and mountain areas.
"We are going to remove them from those places and the only purpose is to protect the life and property of all Salvadoran families and, in particular, the population of the department of Cabañas," said Arriaza Chicas.
In addition, the PNC detailed that they are checking all vehicles entering and leaving Cabañas, as well as people they consider "suspicious", to prevent "the transfer of terrorists" and guarantee "the safety of Salvadorans moving towards the department."
The military and police siege is part of the fifth phase of the Territorial Control Plan., which Bukele launched on November 23, 2022, and which aims to "extract the plague" of gang members in the large cities of the Central American country. A total of 14,000 troops are participating in this phase, which the president has dubbed Extraction.
This is the fifth siege carried out during this phase of the Territorial Control Plan, with previous ones taking place in Nueva Concepción, Chalatenango, in the municipality of Comasagua, in Soyapango as well as the Tutunichapa community, in San Salvador and the La Granjita community, also in the country's capital.
The Salvadoran president launched the aforementioned Territorial Control Plan since the beginning of his term in June 2019. It resulted in a militarization of the streets, especially after phase four, which consisted of an "incursion into the territories."
Following 62 violent deaths attributed to gangs in March 2022, the Legislative Assembly approved the Emergency Regime on March 27, with the support of 67 of the 84 deputies. It has already been extended 16 times. Since then, more than 71,000 people have been detained after the constitutional guarantees of freedom of association and assembly, right of defense, time limit for administrative detention and inviolability of correspondence and telecommunications were suspended.
Human rights organizations number at least 5,490 direct victims of human rights violations under the emergency regime, warning about the conviction of innocent people who are not gang-related.