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El Salvador Sees 45% Drop in Murders: Police

El Salvador police remove the body of a murder victim El Salvador police remove the body of a murder victim

The number of murders in El Salvador so far in 2013 is 45 percent lower than the previous year, providing a reminder of the benefits of the country's gang truce at a time when the agreement is coming under increasing pressure.

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From January to April this year, there were 694 recorded murders, according to the National Police (PNC), 530 less than the same period in 2012. January saw the highest number of murders with 191, while April had the lowest with 148, reported El Mundo. Overall, there was an average of 4.7 murders a day.

The drop was also reflected in a reduction in the number of murders of women. So far this year, 63 women have been murdered compared to 182 the year before.

InSight Crime Analysis

There can be little doubt that behind the dramatic drop in El Salvador's murder rate is the truce struck between the country's main street gangs, Barrio 18 and Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13).

However, the truce has been undermined by political pressures and reports that the gangs have been increasing criminal activity, and the pressure is building to prove it is a sustainable solution to the country's violence problems.

In this sense, the statistics are a timely reminder of the benefits the truce has brought. However, even these figures must be treated cautiously due to the difficult to verify but worrying reports that the drop in recorded murders has been at least partially offset by an increase in disappearances as gangs try to hide their crimes.

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