In April, Wendy Yamileth Alfaro Mena, 27, became the first policewoman to be murdered in El Salvador. However, she was not the first police officer murdered nor the first person that month murdered. El Salvador's murder rate is one of the highest in the world.

Wendy Yamileth Alfaro Mena was shot 50 times by either the Mara Salvatrucha or the 18th Street gang, as criminals begin to treat police as prey rather than running scared from them.

A relative of Mena's, also a police officer, told Al Jazeera, “If you’re in the gangs and kill a police officer you move up the ranks. They left her in the street like a dog. As a woman, she paid the highest price."

At least 33 police officers have been killed since the start of 2015, some while on duty but most are targeted when they are off work. June saw the worst month for violence, with 700 murders in 30 days among a population of six million.

A gang leader spoke with Al Jazeera and said that it was not the gangs who were the real culprits.

"The police are committing massacres, summary executions in El Salvador," he told the broadcaster, anonymously. "This is a push from the leftist government."

 

 

Most recently, the gangs have stepped up their violence in a tactic meant to pressure the government of President Salvador Sanchez Ceren to negotiate with them. The gangs want the administration to rein back its recent crackdown on gangs and for the president to secure better conditions for gang members currently in prison. The government is rejecting any dialogue with the gangs.

Murders in the country numbered 2,192 in the first five months of 2015.

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