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SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Prosecutors in El Salvador ordered the arrest of 593 people nationwide on suspicion of crimes like homicide and extortion, an action that appeared to be a major strike against gangs that have turned the country into one of the deadliest in the world.

Attorney General Douglas Melendez said in a statement on Wednesday that all the detention orders were based on investigations. Other crimes filed against the suspects included terrorism, fraud, rape, kidnapping and drug possession.

State security forces in Central America and Mexico are often accused of arbitrary detentions by human rights groups.

Violence has surged in El Salvador since a 2012 truce between the Barrio 18 gang and its rival Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) began to unravel in 2014.

Violent crime in El Salvador and other Central American nations is one of the main reasons why people want to leave, moving north through Mexico to the United States.

(Reporting by Nelson Renteria; editing by Michael O'Boyle and Grant McCool)

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Reuters