El Salvador On Course for 8% Rise in Murders in 2011

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El Salvador has already counted more murders in 2011 than in the whole of the previous year, according to police.

According to police statistics detailed in La Prensa Grafica, 4,005 murders were committed in the country between January 1 and November 30 this year, one more than the total in 2010. If killings continue at the same rate in December, the country would end the year with some 8 percent more murders than in 2010.

In November, Salvadoran police recorded 375 homicides, significantly exceeding the figures for the same month over the last two years, which both stood below 320. August, however, was the most violent month of the year, with police counting 391 homicides.

According to police data, those most likely to be murdered in the country are males under the age of 30 who live in urban areas. Most murders take place after 4 p.m., with weekends being particularly violent.

With over 128,000 illegal firearms currently circulating in El Salvador, gun crime is a major problem. According to police statistics, 70 percent of all murders in the country are committed with a firearm.

If homicides continue at the current rate for the remainder of the year, El Salvador, with a population of some 6.1 million, would end the year with a murder rate of almost 72 per 100,000.

With El Salvador rapidly gaining a reputation as one of the most dangerous countries in the world, President Mauricio Funes recently promised to reduce the number of murders by 30 percent.

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