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15 Jan 2017

El Salvador goes 24 hours without a single murder

The gang wars ravaging El Salvador

An average Wednesday in El Salvador turned out to be a remarkable one, not because of what happened, but because of what didn't.

11th January marked the first day in 2017 in which El Salvador, ravaged by gang wars, had not witnessed a single murder.

However, the peace did not last, and several people were killed again on Thursday.

In context

The gang wars ravaging El Salvador
Murder is normal in El Salvador

Murder statistics

Murder is normal in El Salvador

El Salvador witnessed 99 murders in the first 10 days of 2017.

Although the body count declined by 20% from 2015, 5,278 murders had taken place in El Salvador in 2016 - an average of 14 murders a day.

To put things in perspective, in 2016, El Salvador witnessed 80 homicides per 100,000 residents, compared to just five per 100,000 in the US.

El Salvador is one of the world's most dangerous places

According to 2014 data published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, El Salvador ranked second in the world in murders per 100,000 residents. The first was Honduras.

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Gang wars

El Salvador at war with its street gangs

Two powerful gangs operate in El Salvador - Mara Salvatrucha and their rivals Barrio 18.

Two years back, President Salvador Sánchez Cerén scrapped a truce that the previous government had negotiated with the gangs.

As heavily armed security forces took to the streets, the gangs responded with a new wave of violence targeting police officers and soldiers.

The battle still rages on.


Tens of thousands leaving the country

Since 2013, each year has seen tens of thousands of Salavdorans leaving the country to escape the violence and seek protection elsewhere.

According to a survey published by the Institute of Public Opinion at the Central American University José Simeón Cañas in San Salvador, 40% of Salvadoran's would like to leave the country - the highest percentage in a decade.

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