El Salvador's defense minister says a powerful car bomb has been found near the country's security ministry and was safely deactivated.

Gen. David Munguia Payes said Saturday the bomb contained plastic explosives and would have sprayed glass shards if it had exploded.

The Justice and Security Ministry issued a statement saying that agents found the bomb Friday in a car that had been reported stolen. They were apparently acting on an anonymous tip.

It's not clear who left the device, but battles against and among gangs have killed hundreds this year.

The U.S. Embassy issued a warning that the discovery "is evidence of a further escalation in the level of violence" in El Salvador, though it said it is not aware of any threat aimed directly at U.S. citizens.