Death squad

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A death squad is an armed group that conducts extrajudicial killings or forced disappearances of persons for the purposes such as political repression, assassinations, torture, genocide, ethnic cleansing, or revolutionary terror. These killings are often conducted in ways meant to ensure the secrecy of the killers' identities.

Death squads may have the support of domestic or foreign governments (see state terrorism). They may comprise paramilitary militia groups, government soldiers, policemen, or combinations thereof. They may also be organized as vigilantes. When death squads are not controlled by the state, they may consist of insurgent forces or organized crime, such as the ones used by cartels.

Death squads are similar to secret police, and the two can often overlap and be used in the same capacities.

Use of death squads are generally considered to be a war crime or a crime against humanity, depending on the context and/or situation they are used in.

List of notable death squads and groups that used death squad tactics