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El Salvador anti-gang measures 'a success' as 17,000 held

El Salvador's defence minister has praised the extension by Congress of emergency measures which he says are having a "positive" effect in the battle against rampant gang violence.

René Merino said that more than 17,000 suspected gang members had been arrested since the state of emergency was declared a month ago.

On Sunday, Congress extended the measure by another 30 days.

It came into force on 27 March after 62 people were murdered in one day.

The emergency measures have been controversial as they limit some constitutional rights, such as allowing the security forces to arrest suspects without a warrant.

The sentences for convicted gang members have also been raised to a maximum of 45 years in jail.


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