Medellin authorities regain control of the San Javier neighborhood Juan XIII after gang warfare paralyzed the area Tuesday, but the metrocable remains closed due to damage from gunfire.
The fighting between rivals gangs “La Agonia” and “La Divisa” caused chaos in the neighborhood. Gang members were gunned down in battles, forcing residents to stay indoors, and 250 school children to be locked inside their school.
The K-line service of Medellin’s metro, a cable car which connects San Javier with La Aurora, has been suspended because the Juan XIII station and three of the cars were damaged by gunfire.
Sixty people were arrested once order was restored in the neighborhood, and Medellin Mayor Alonso Salazar asked the national government for assistance to deal with the gang warfare.
Salazar called on newly sworn-in Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos to speed up the process of electing a new prosecutor general, who will be able to adopt special measures to help local authorities combat the soaring murder rate.
According to the Medellin mayor, the area witnessed 124 homicides in the first half of this year, twenty more than the latter half of 2009.
Violence has been soaring in Medellin since the beginning of 2009 when the government of former President Alvaro Uribe extradited leaders of the demobilized paramilitary coalition AUC, who were accused of continuing to rule the city’s underworld.
According to the national police, two new paramilitary leaders, Sebastian and Valenciano, are now fighting for control of the drug trade left without a clear leader after the AUC leaders’ extradition. The violence left more than 2,000 people dead in 2009 and continued to worsen in the first half of this year.