A rare murder-free day recorded in El Salvador

One of the world’s deadliest countries recorded its first day without a single killing since January 2015.

A woman passes by a message threatening gang rivals left on a wall next to MS-13 gang-related graffiti near a crime scene in San Luis Talpa, El Salvador
A message threatening gang rivals is scribbled on the wall near a crime scene in San Luis Talpa [Jose Cabezas/Reuters]

El Salvador, one of the world’s deadliest countries, has recorded a rare day without a single homicide.

National Civil Police commissioner Howard Cotto said at a news conference on Thursday that no murders were reported the previous day in the gang-plagued Central American nation.

The last time the country went a full day without any killings was January 22, 2015, according to records kept by the Associated Press.

It also happened once in 2013 and on two days the year before that.

The nation of about six million people averaged 14.4 murders a day last year.

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Killings peaked at 104 per 100,000 residents in 2015, the highest rate for any nation not in open war that year. At least 6,657 people died amid a rise in mass killings and violence between alleged gang members and police.

In August 2015, police had said there were at least 125 murders in just three days in the country, a staggering toll even by El Salvador’s standards.

The Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and M-18 gangs, involved in drug trafficking, organised crime and extortion rackets in the country, have an estimated 70,000 members in El Salvador, 10,000 of whom are behind bars.

The gangs emerged in the 1980s in Latino neighbourhoods in Los Angeles.

They arrived in Central America when the US deported thousands of immigrants who had fled there to escape civil wars that had gripped the region in the late 20th century.

Homicides fell by about 20 percent in 2016, but it was still one of the most violent countries with 81.2 murders per 100,000 residents.

Endemic levels of sexual abuse and gender-based violence have made El Salvador one of the most dangerous countries in the world for girls and women as well.

Between January and August 2015, the National Civilian Police registered an average of nearly five cases per day of sexual violence against women, including rape and sexual assault. And victims are often the most vulnerable – more than half of these assaults were carried out against girls, adolescents, and the disabled. 

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Source: News Agencies