March 27, 2015 / 1:28 AM / 3 years ago

Eight gang members in El Salvador reported killed in shoot-out with police

SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Eight gang members were killed in a confrontation with police on a coffee farm in El Salvador, police said on Thursday, the same day as hundreds of thousands of people marched around the country for an end to rising violence.

Police raided the farm in the city of San Jose Villanueva, south of San Salvador, after complaints from residents, according to a statement.

The gang members fired first, the police said, and one officer was lightly injured. The gang members were part of the criminal group Barrio 18, according to the prosecutor’s office.

In January, the Salvadoran government authorized the police to shoot “without any fear of suffering consequences” if threatened by gang members.

Violence in El Salvador has increased over the past year after a 2012 truce between the Barrio 18 and rival gang Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) started to unravel.

On Thursday, some 300,000 Salvadorans marched in the capital, one of 12 demonstrations around the country calling for an end to violence.

“This is a fight that we are going to win, all Salvadorans, because we are going to take on the challenge of continuing to work for the respect for life, to deepen peace, and to make sure that justice prevails,” Salvadoran President Salvador Sanchez Ceren said at the march in the capital.

Reporting by Nelson Renteria; Editing by Ken Wills

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