San Salvador — A new wave of killing swept over El Salvador as the Central American nation's Human Rights Commission reported that the number of fatalities in the escalating civil war reached 7,000 by Oct. 1.
"The violence that now exists in El Salvador," said Antonio Morales Erlich, a member of the ruling civilian-military junta, "is shameful."
Monitor Latin America correspondent James Nelson Goodsell writes that those assassinated this past week include many prominent individuals -- including the former South African Ambassador Archibald Gardner Dunn, Christian Democratic Party spokesman Melvin Rigoberto Orellana, and Maria Magdalena Henriques of the rights commission.
Mr. Dunn had been held by terrorists for 315 days and apparently was killed after their demands for a $20 million ransom were not met.
Mr. Orellana was killed in a daylight ambush outside his home here, and Mrs. Henriques' body was found outside the capital after she had been kidnapped, allegedly by two policemen in uniform. But officials of the ruling junta denied policemen were involved.
As the week ended, El Salvador's three most powerful guerrilla groups said they would join forces to try to undertake "the decisive battle" to topple the junta. Other such efforts in the past, however, have failed because the groups were unable to agree on joint strategy and leadership.