El Salvador's Supreme Court ruled Monday that street gangs in the country would be considered terrorist outfits, the Associated Press (AP) reported. The move comes after 14 members of the infamous Barrio 18 gang were killed in a prison in the Central American nation Saturday.
The court said that any gang, including the notorious Marasalvatrucha, or MS-13, and Barrio 18, which tries to assert powers belonging to the state would be seen as a terrorist group, the AP reported.
The court's verdict came as a denial to attempts to declare El Salvador's Special Law Against Terrorist Acts as unconstitutional, stamping down four previous bids to scrap the law, which was implemented in October 2006. According to the court, tapping of telephones and the freezing of funds associated with third parties linked to terrorist groups will remain constitutional.
El Salvador's Attorney General Luis Martinez said Monday that the San Francisco Gotera prison in the eastern part of the country ordered the killing of 14 Barrio gang members inside the Quezaltepeque prison, 16 miles northwest of the capital San Salvador, over the weekend, the AP reported. The authorities described the killings as a "purge action" by the gang, and said that its members were suspected of forcing bus drivers into a violence-plagued strike in late July.
Barrio 18 and its rival gang MS-13 are notorious for kidnapping, prostitution rings, extortion, and drug and human trafficking.
The gangs have intensified their attacks against authorities and public transportation in recent weeks to pressure the government into negotiations. However, the government has not heeded to their demands and has kept their leaders in maximum-security prisons.